Berlin, January 30, 2023 — Albanian authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the recent attack on reporter Elvis Hila and his wife, ensure their safety, and hold the perpetrators to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.
On January 25, an unidentified man called Hila, a reporter for the privately owned broadcaster Report TV and the news website Shqiptarja, and insulted him about his recent coverage of a man sentenced to prison for forging court documents, whom the caller said was his relative, the journalist told CPJ via email.
About an hour later, Hila received another call from a man who did not identify himself, and said he could provide information about the case; when the journalist and his wife arrived to meet that man in the northern town of Lezhë, two men assaulted them both, according to news reports, Shqiptarja, and Hila, who said he preferred not to publish his wife’s name.
Hila told CPJ that they both suffered bruises and hematomas for which they were treated in the emergency room of a local hospital. The journalist reported the incident to the police, who opened an investigation and issued arrest warrants for two men, aged 35 and 32, whose names were not released, according to Hila and Shqiptarja.
“Albanian authorities must take the recent attack on journalist Elvis Hila and his wife very seriously, conduct a swift and thorough investigation, and ensure that those responsible are held to account,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Journalists reporting on court cases work in the public interest, and authorities must send a clear signal that acts of violence against them will not go unpunished.”
When Hila and his wife arrived to meet the person who said he had information about the court case, two men approached their car and insisted Hila get out of the vehicle to explain his coverage of the case, the journalist told CPJ.
Hila refused, and the men attempted to open the door; the journalist’s wife then exited the car and tried to push the men away while calling the police, and one of the men punched her in the neck and tried to steal her phone.
The men then kicked the car door and punched Hila through his open car window until the journalist and his wife were able to drive away from the scene.
Hila said that he had not received any news of the suspects’ arrests as of January 30. CPJ emailed the Lezhë prosecutor’s office for comment but did not receive any reply.