Journalists demand inquiry into alleged abuses by security agency

New York, February 10, 2005—Five independent Croatian journalists filed a petition on Monday requesting that the government investigate allegations that the Counter-Intelligence Agency (POA) tried to discredit them after they reported on sensitive war crimes issues, according to local and international press reports.

The journalists called for an inquiry after the February 4 edition of the independent Zagreb weekly magazine Globus published a POA document titled “Information on intelligence-media manipulation,” which accused the journalists of working for foreign security services in order to discredit the government and impede integration with the European Union.

According to a March 2004 presentation that POA Director Franjo Turek gave to senior government officials, the agency had conducted surveillance against the journalists in 2003 and 2004 and accused them of espionage after they reported on the government’s failure to arrest war criminals indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The five journalists are: Gordan Malic of Globus; Ivica Djikic of the independent Split weekly magazine Feral Tribune; Marijo Kavain and Ivanka Toma of the independent Zagreb daily Jutarnji Listi; and Zeljko Peratovic of the Zagreb state daily Vjesnik.

The journalists have filed the petition with the Parliament, attorney general, and Council for the Civilian Supervision of Security Services. The council held an initial hearing on the matter yesterday.

During the 1990s, the nationalist HDZ government relied on security services to persecute independent journalists. Reformist governments since 2000 have made limited progress in changing the politicized agencies.

In October 2004, POA agents threatened and attempted to blackmail independent journalist Helena Puljiz into becoming a POA informant.