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Police patrol outside the National Palace of Culture during a ceremony starting Bulgaria's six-month presidency of the European Union in Sofia, Bulgaria, January 12, 2018. (Reuters/Stoyan Nenov)

Investigative reporter attacked in Bulgaria

May 14, 2018 5:19 PM ET

Berlin, May 14, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Bulgarian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into an attack on investigative journalist Hristo Geshov, who was beaten on May 10 outside his home in the northwestern town of Cherven Bryag, and guarantee his safety.

Geshov told the Bulgarian business weekly Capital that an unknown assailant hit him several times in the back while he was unlocking his door, kicked him to the ground, and then continued to kick him all over. The assailant then rode away in a car that was driven by another unidentified person, according to news reports.

Geshov has reported on cases of alleged corruption in Cherven Bryag's municipal government, including irregularities involving European Union funds, and the journalist received multiple anonymous threats via phone and online in relation to his work, according to reports. Approximately three weeks before the attack, Geshov told the independent news website Mediapool, an anonymous Facebook user posted a "Rest in Peace" sign on his Facebook page.

"We call on Bulgarian authorities to launch an independent investigation into the beating of Hristo Geshov and the multiple threats he has received in retaliation for his journalism," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said from New York. "The European Union must closely monitor how Bulgaria responds to the attack against Geshov and all similar attacks against the press in the country."

When CPJ reached the Cherven Bryag police, the man who answered the phone said he is not authorized to comment and referred CPJ to the Interior Ministry's regional Pleven office, which did not respond to repeated phone calls. The Cherven Bryag prosecutor's office also did not respond immediately to CPJ's request for comment.

On May 11, the Cherven Bryag municipality leadership issued a statement on its Facebook page saying it was "sorry for what has happened with Mr. Hristo Geshov," and that it "has nothing to do with the incident and is prepared to fully assist the investigating authorities with it."

In an interview with the online media group Bulgaria On Air, Geshov said he immediately reported the attack to both the Cherven Bryag police and the local prosecutor's office. Geshov said that he does not have any information as to what actions the local investigating authorities have taken in his case.

"I associate this attack 100 percent with my series of investigations," Geshov wrote on his personal Facebook page the night of the attack.

Geshov, 28, founded, currently hosts, and reports for the online broadcast program, "On Target," which is carried by the regional investigative journalism platform Za Istinata (For the Truth).

In an open letter that was published in April on the Bulgarian news website Debati, Geshov said his mother was forced out of her job as a cook at a local daycare center in retaliation for his critical reporting.

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