On September 15, 2020, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, a uniformed police officer informed Mojca Šetinc Pašek, a reporter and editor at the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia, and Miša Molk, a host on the network, that a criminal complaint had been filed against them, according to Pašek, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview, and a report by local newspaper Večer.
The complaint alleged that Pašek and Molk had organized a July 15, 2020, demonstration in Ljubljana that violated Slovenia’s COVID-19 restrictions, according to Pašek and that report. The officer said a preliminary investigation was underway, and took brief statements from each journalist, Pašek said. The officer did not disclose who had filed the complaint, Pašek said.
The July 15 protest, held in the Republic Square in Ljubljana, saw several hundred journalists and media workers demonstrate against policy changes proposed by Prime Minister Janez Janša that critics say would harm RTV Slovenia’s budget and editorial independence, according to news reports. Pašek told CPJ that she and Molk participated in the demonstration but did not organize it.
The organizers of the rally could face criminal charges under the Public Gatherings Act, a misdemeanor listed under Article 50 of Slovenia’s Minor Offenses Act, according to a police statement published in Večer. If charged and convicted, the accused could face a maximum fine of 400 euros (US$470), according to information provided to the journalists, which Pašek described to CPJ.
“Although the procedure was not illegal and the officer’s behavior was correct, I find the procedure absurd and an attempt to intimidate journalists,” Pašek told CPJ. She said that RTV Slovenia’s legal department is looking into the situation, and said the two journalists will file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office for alleged false accusation.
In March, Prime Minister Janez Janša published an essay titled “War with the media,” in which he attacked RTV journalists and others, alleging that a “small circle of female editors” were working with the “deep state” to undermine him.
In 2016, Janša, then an opposition politician, called Pašek and Eugenija Carl, another RTV Slovenia journalist, “retired prostitutes” on Twitter. Pašek and Carl sued Janša for defamation and on May 21, 2020, the Higher Court in Celje rejected Janša’s appeal and required him to pay 6,000 euros in damages to the journalists, according to news reports.
CPJ emailed questions to the police in Ljubljana but did not receive any reply.
In June, Carl received an envelope mailed to her work address containing white powder and a threatening letter relating to the lawsuit she had filed against Janša, as CPJ documented at the time.