Berlin, September 10, 2020 — Kosovo authorities should conduct a quick and thorough investigation into the threats sent to journalist Ermal Panduri and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Since September 8, dozens of Facebook users have sent threatening messages to Panduri, managing director of the privately owned Kosovo TV station RTV Dukagjini, who hosts a daily political talk show on the broadcaster, some of them threatening his life, according to regional press freedom group Safejournalists.net and Panduri, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
Panduri told CPJ that the threats began after he posted a video of Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi on his public Facebook page, where he frequently posts political commentary and has about 25,000 followers. In the comments on that video, Panduri wrote criticism of the president regarding a land dispute with neighboring Serbia. He told CPJ that, based on the users’ profiles, he believes they are real commenters and not bots, and that they are Kosovars living abroad.
“Kosovo authorities must take the death threats made against Ermal Panduri seriously and spare no effort in investigating them,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “If journalists cannot criticize the country’s politics without receiving a torrent of threats to their lives, then the press cannot operate freely in Kosovo.”
Panduri told CPJ that he filed a criminal complaint to the police on September 8, and was in touch with an officer investigating the case.
The journalist published a screenshot on his Facebook page of one comment, which contained vulgar phrases about Panduri’s wife and family. He told CPJ that the user then deleted that comment and sent a private Facebook message saying “Your life is in danger” and threatening to attack Panduri’s wife and his female relatives.
CPJ emailed the Kosovo Police investigator charged with the case, but did not receive any reply.