Berlin, September 9, 2019 — A court in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, on September 12 will begin hearing investigative reporter Jovo Martinović’s appeal of his January conviction on charges of drug trafficking and criminal association, for which he was sentenced for 18 months in prison, according to a statement by a group of press freedom organizations. He is free pending the outcome of his appeal.
“We call on the Montenegrin authorities not to contest investigative reporter Jovo Martinović’s appeal of his conviction on charges of drug trafficking and criminal association,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said in New York. “Martinović was simply doing his job when he reported on issues of public interest. Jailing a journalist for his reporting creates a dangerous precedent and will have chilling effect in Montenegrin media.”
Martinović was first detained on October 22, 2015, along with 17 others, on suspicion of participating in a drug trafficking ring. Authorities charged him with allegedly facilitating a meeting between drug dealers and buyers, CPJ has documented. In January 2017, the journalist was released pending the outcome of his trial and banned from traveling, CPJ reported. Martinović has denied the charges, saying he believed they were in retaliation for his reporting, and appealed the January 2019 verdict, CPJ reported.