Berlin, October 29, 2019 — Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate threats made to journalist Avdo Avdić and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On October 22, Avdić, a reporter for the investigative outlet Žurnal, was forwarded a threatening video via messaging app, which CPJ reviewed, featuring Mirza Gacanin, whom Avdić had alleged in his reporting to be connected with a drug cartel, according to a report by his employer and the journalist, who communicated with CPJ via email.
In the video, Gacanin says that an unnamed journalist “will be searched for in the canals,” and also makes an obscene reference to the journalist’s children. On October 23, Gacanin messaged Avdić directly, confirming that he was the unnamed journalist in his video, Avdić said.
On October 24, Gacanin sent Avdić a video of a sheep on the ground, which Avdić told CPJ was a reference to a sheep ready to be slaughtered. Avdić forwarded the messages to the Sarajevo police, who opened an investigation into the threats on October 23, he said. He was interviewed by police on October 28, he told CPJ.
CPJ repeatedly called Mirza Gacanin, but he did not answer the phone.
“These threats made against journalist Avdo Avdić are extremely chilling, and authorities must take them seriously,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Threatening a reporter because of his coverage is completely unacceptable, and Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities must take every possible measure to ensure the safety of Avdić and his family.”
Avdić told CPJ that this was not the first time he had received threats but, “it may be the first time that I feel my family could be in real danger.”
CPJ emailed the Sarajevo prosecutor’s office for comment, but did not receive a reply.
CPJ research shows that, of 870 journalists murdered in retaliation for their reporting since 1992, at least 42% were threatened before they were killed.