New York, March 9, 2017–Albanian authorities should thoroughly investigate yesterday’s attack on investigative journalist Elvi Fundo and swiftly bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Two unidentified assailants beat Fundo, who runs the news website Citynews.al and Radio Best, with crowbars near a train station in the capital, Tirana.
Fundo was hospitalized with severe injuries, Citynews.al and the website Lapsi.al reported. Albanian Interior Minister Saimir Tahiri visited the journalist in the hospital following the attack, and said the police had launched an investigation, according to media reports.
“We are appalled by yesterday’s assault on Elvi Fundo,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said. “We call on authorities to consider Fundo’s journalism as a possible motive in the attack, and to bring his attackers to justice to send a clear message that journalists cannot be attacked with impunity.”
Following the incident, the journalist wrote on his Facebook page that the assault was “not a political act, but a crime [carried out] by corrupt media clans with ties to the drug mafia,” but did not elaborate. The Albanian Union of Journalists said the attack was likely a reaction to Fundo’s recent stories “about corruption and corrupt affairs.” Citynews.al did not immediately respond to CPJ’s request for further information.
The Audiovisual Media Authority, a broadcast regulatory body, called the attack a “grave act and a direct threat to media freedom and freedom of expression.”
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama likewise condemned the attack, calling for “those [responsible] for this crime [to] be exposed immediately.”