Berlin, April 25, 2022 – Serbian authorities should conduct swift and thorough investigations into death threats made to employees of the broadcaster N1TV and newspaper Danas, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On April 18, the independent broadcaster N1TV received an anonymous email threatening that the outlet’s employees would be “slaughtered,” according to news reports, a report by the outlet, and N1TV news director Igor Božić, who communicated with CPJ via email.
Separately, on April 22, employees of the independent daily Danas received a number of death threats via email, messaging app, and comments on their social media pages from both anonymous and named accounts, according to news reports and Bojan Cvejić, editor-in-chief of the outlet’s website, who communicated with CPJ via email.
Both outlets filed complaints to authorities, according to Božić and Cvejić, who said that as of Monday, the Belgrade prosecutor’s office confirmed that it had opened an investigation into the message sent to N1TV.
“It is a welcome development that Serbian authorities responded quickly to a threatening message sent to the broadcaster N1TV. Authorities must also investigate threats sent to the Danas newspaper, and ensure that those responsible in both cases are held to account,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “It is completely unacceptable to threaten journalists because of their work, and Serbian authorities must show that such actions have consequences.”
Božić told CPJ that he did not know what could have prompted the threatening email, as N1TV covers a wide range of international and domestic topics. The email also called employees of the outlet “mercenary Americans,” Božić said. N1TV is affiliated with the U.S. broadcaster CNN.
In February 2019, the outlet received a letter threatening to kill its staff and blow up their office in Belgrade, as CPJ documented at the time. That March, a man pleaded guilty to having sent that threat and was sentenced to eight months in prison.
The messages sent to Danas, samples of which were posted in those news reports and shared with CPJ by Cvejić, also threatened to “slaughter” employees of the outlet. The messages referenced a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that Danas had recently published on its Instagram feed, reading “Truth, not God.” The messages alleged that the Gandhi quote was an insult to Christians ahead of the Orthodox Easter on April 24.
After the publication of this article, Serbian special prosecutor for high-tech crime Branko Stamenkovic responded to CPJ’s emailed request for comment saying that authorities were investigating both cases and “undertaking all necessary procedural steps” to find the perpetrators.
[Editors’ note: This article has been updated to include Serbian authorities’ response to CPJ.]