Latvian journalist assaulted in Riga

New York, March 30, 2012–Authorities must conduct a thorough and effective investigation into the attack on the publisher of a Latvian news website that had run a number of sensitive stories, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

At least two unidentified assailants attacked Leonids Jakobsons, owner of the independent news website Kompromat, in the stairwell of his apartment building in Riga, the capital, as he returned home with his 9-year-old son on Thursday, local and international press reported. Jakobsons, who was attacked with a knife, was hospitalized with multiple bruises on his head and a three-inch-long cut on his cheek, but is now stable, the independent regional news website Delfi reported.

Jakobsons told local journalists he believes the attack was connected to his work, but could not say which of his articles may have provoked it, news reports said. Delfi reported that Riga police had opened an investigation into the attack and were considering journalism as a motive.

According to the independent news website Lenta, Kompromat has published sensitive information in the past, including reports on alleged connections between Latvian nationalists and the Chechen diaspora, and a probe into the attempted murder of a former customs official. Last year, the site published leaked email exchanges between a Riga mayor and a Russian embassy official. After the site alleged the official was a Russian intelligence agent, the mayor filed a complaint and police detained Jakobsons in December and confiscated his computers, according to news reports.

Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis condemned the attack and called on police to thoroughly investigate the incident, Delfi reported.

“It is intolerable that a journalist working in a European Union country should be savagely attacked in this fashion,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We welcome the prime minister’s commitment to investigate this assault, but police must act quickly to apprehend the attackers.”