Berlin, January 6, 2020 — Montenegrin authorities should immediately release journalist Anđela Đikanović and drop all charges against her, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday, police in Podgorica, the capital, arrested Đikanović, editor-in-chief of the local news website FOS, according to a report by her employer. Following her arrest, the state prosecutor’s office charged Đikanović with “causing panic and disorder,” a criminal offense, and ordered her to be detained for 72 hours, according to that report.
The allegations relate to an article Đikanović published on FOS earlier that day, which the website later retracted, according to a report by regional news website Balkan Insight.
If convicted, Đikanović could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to one year, according to Montenegro’s criminal code.
“Montenegrin authorities must immediately release journalist Anđela Đikanović and drop all criminal charges against her,” said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said, in New York. “Journalists should not face prison sentences for their work, even if they make professional errors; Montenegro authorities should pursue civil remedies for such issues, not criminal ones.”
According to the Balkan Insight report, Đikanović’s detention was sparked by an article she published which alleged that the Montenegrin government was considering requesting security assistance from Kosovo to help quell protests.
Following the publication of the article, the Montenegrin government denied the allegations, and FOS retracted the article and published an apology, according to Balkan Insight and the apology statement. Today, FOS published a statement saying that Đikanović had been dismissed as editor-in-chief for a “serious professional error.”
The journalist’s lawyer, Milos Vuksanovic, told Balkan Insight that Đikanović had appealed the state prosecutor’s ruling, and called her detention “shocking.”
CPJ emailed the Montenegrin state prosecutor’s office for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.