Berlin, June 13, 2019 — Romanian authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate the death threat against investigative journalist Diana Oncioiu and ensure her safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On June 11, an unidentified man using an anonymous phone number called Oncioiu, an investigative reporter at independent news websites Dela0 and Sa Fie Lumina, and threatened to kill her if she continued to write about the Romanian Orthodox Church, according to the reporter, who communicated with CPJ via email, and news reports.
Oncioiu filed a criminal complaint with the Bucharest police on June 11 after receiving the call, Romanian daily Adevărul reported, and the journalist confirmed in an email to CPJ.
“Threatening to kill a reporter because of her coverage is completely unacceptable, and Romanian authorities must thoroughly investigate the death threat made against reporter Diana Oncioiu and ensure her safety,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said in New York. “Journalists reporting on affairs of public interest should be able to work free from intimidation and threats.”
In an interview with the Romanian edition of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S. Congress-funded media outlet, Oncioiu said that the threat was likely related to her ongoing investigative work into allegations of pedophilia and other abuses at a theological seminary in Huși, a town in Eastern Romania.
Sa Fie Lumina confirmed that a threat had been made against one of its reporters and vowed to continue its investigative work into alleged sexual abuse at the seminary, according to a post on the outlet’s Facebook page.
Speaking with Romanian news website HotNews, Vasile Bănescu, a spokesperson for the Romanian Orthodox Church, rejected any association with the threats and said he hoped the perpetrator would be identified.
CPJ emailed the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Romanian Ministry of the Interior, which oversees the police, but did not immediately receive a response.
In April, Romanian investigative reporter Emilia Șercan received similar death threats after reporting on alleged plagiarism by a former education minister, as CPJ reported at the time.