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Austrian police, pictured at a World War II memorial in Bleiburg on May 18, 2019, that was attended by thousands of Croatian far-right supporters. A Croatian journalist says he was harassed and assaulted during the event. (AP/Darko Bandic)

Croatian journalist Danijel Majić assaulted, harassed in Austria

June 7, 2019 11:17 AM ET

Danijel Majić, a Croatian journalist working for German daily Frankfurter Rundschau, said he was physically and verbally assaulted by a Croatian TV presenter and members of the crowd in the Austrian city of Bleiburg on May 18, 2019, according to Majić's newspaper. A Croatian publication later published photographs of Majić alongside other journalists who covered the event and referred to them as "enemies of Croatia," the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Majić was covering an event attended by far-right supporters who, The Associated Press reported, gather every year in a field in southern Austria to commemorate the massacre of pro-Nazi Croats by communists at the end of World War II.

The Frankfurter Rundschau report and Twitter posts from Majić said that television host Velimir Bujanec spat at the back of Majić's head during the event. Bujanec hosts a right-wing talk show "Bujica" on the Zagreb-based local station Z1 TV and other stations in Croatia, according to reports. A group of people whom Majić said he believed were supporters of Bujanec then insulted and kicked the reporter, according to the report.

Austrian police intervened and Majić was not hurt, Frankfurter Rundschau reported.

CPJ sent emails to Bujanec via his TV program, requesting comment, but did not immediately receive a response.

Majić said on Twitter that he reported the incident at the police station in Bleiburg, but was informed that he would have to file a private action because insult is not an official offence.

In an email to CPJ, the press department of the Carinthia state police in Austria confirmed on June 3, 2019 that Majić reported the incident to the Bleiburg police, which has filed a report to its district authority "against a Croatian citizen because of two offences." The press department, referring to data protection rules, declined to give more information.

Majić regularly reports on extremism and far-right, according to his profile on his news outlet's website.

On May 23, 2019, the Croatian right-wing weekly Hrvatski Tjednik published the photographs of five reporters--including Majić--on its front page, along with an article that referred to the journalists, who work for Austrian and German outlets and who reported from Bleiburg, as "enemies of Croatia," the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported. Deutsche Welle said that some of the journalists have been harassed online.

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