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People walk under political billboards in Skopje, North Macedonia, on May 4, 2019. A North Macedonian government official recently threatened two journalists. (AFP/Robert Atanasovski)

North Macedonia journalists threatened by government official

February 4, 2020 9:30 AM ET

Berlin, February 4, 2020 -- North Macedonia authorities should conduct a swift and transparent investigation into the threats made against journalists Meri Jordanovska and Iskra Korovesovska and ensure their safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On January 10, Emil Jakimovski, then the assistant head of department at North Macedonia’s Central Registry, sent chat messages to Jordanovska, a reporter and deputy editor of the news website A1on, which included sexual comments and a threat that he would be “creating a funeral for you,” according to Jordanovska, who spoke to CPJ via email and posted screenshots of the messages on her Facebook page.

Korovesovska, editor-in-chief of local broadcaster Alfa TV, told CPJ via email that Jakimovski sent her similar messages in November and December 2019, including sexual comments, saying that he knew where she lived, and saying that she should “run away” if she saw him on the street.

Both Jordanovska and Korovesovska told CPJ that Jakimovski disparaged their news outlets and their reporting in the messages, and accused them of spreading propaganda and being in the service of billionaire philanthropist George Soros. The journalists told CPJ that they had not recently covered Jakimovski, but said their outlets had covered claims in 2019 that some news websites Jakimovski allegedly owned had published false reports.

Both Jordanovska and Korovesovska filed complaints with the police about the threats, they told CPJ.

Jakimovski was terminated from his job at the Central Registry, a government office that registers companies, real estate, and other entities, on January 13 after authorities opened an investigation into those messages and threats Jakimovski allegedly made against employees of the registry, according to a report by A1on. On January 17, police arrested him in connection with the threatening messages and in response to a domestic violence complaint, A1on reported.

“We applaud authorities’ steps to investigate the threats against journalists Meri Jordanovska and Iskra Korovesovska, and urge them to see the legal process to its completion,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. "Threatening journalists is unacceptable, and those who do so must be held to account.”

On January 24, police told both journalists that Jakimovski’s detention would be extended for an additional 30 days, they told CPJ.

Korovesovska told CPJ that a representative from the North Macedonia Prosecutor’s Office said that she should pursue her case against Jakimovski in civil court, and that authorities are still investigating the threats against Jordanovska.

CPJ emailed Jakimovski and the Prosecutor’s Office for comment, but did not receive any replies. CPJ emailed Jakimovski's lawyer, Ivanka Jakimovska, who shares the same surname but is not related to him, for comment but did not receive any response.

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