Election posters of Freedom Party candidates Heinz-Christian Strache and Harald Vilimsky are seen in Vienna, Austria, on April 26, 2019. Freedom Party members recently attempted to intimidate news anchor Armin Wolf. (Reuters/Leonhard Foeger)

Austrian news anchor Armin Wolf facing intimidation by far-right Freedom Party

May 2, 2019 9:45 AM ET

Armin Wolf, a news anchor at Austrian public service broadcaster Österreicher Rundfunk (ORF), was threatened and was the subject of attempts at intimidation by several politicians from the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, a member of the country's governing coalition, following his interview with Freedom Party General Secretary Harald Vilimsky, which aired on April 23, 2019, according to ORF and news reports.

During the interview, Wolf questioned Vilimsky about a controversial poster produced by the party, which the anchor compared with Nazi-era depictions of Jews, as seen in a video of the interview and as reported by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Vilimsky responded by saying that drawing such a parallel is "something that cannot go without consequences."

The ORF editorial board issued a statement on April 24 condemning Vilimsky's response as "a personal threat" and "personal intimidation" against Wolf.

Also on April 24, Ursula Stenzel, a Freedom Party member on the Vienna city council, compared Wolf to a Nazi-era People's Court judge, and Norbert Steger, a member of the ORF board who was nominated by the Freedom Party, called the interview "perverted," according to Austrian dailies Kurier and Die Presse.

Steger later recommended that Wolf "take a sabbatical" in an interview with the daily Österreich.

On April 26, Freedom Party Chairman and Austrian Deputy Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache said that Wolf's interview was "more than disgusting," according to Österreich.

On April 28, Wolf wrote on his personal blog that he stood by his questions and was not going to take a sabbatical.

The Freedom Party's press department did not respond to CPJ emailed request for comment.

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