Berlin, March 28, 2023—Albanian authorities must quickly and thoroughly investigate the recent attack on the privately owned TV station Top Channel and ensure those responsible are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
Shortly after midnight on Monday, March 27, unidentified people fired 20 to 25 bullets from a vehicle as they passed Top Channel’s office in the capital city of Tirana, according to media reports, a report by the outlet, and Top Channel editor-in-chief Altin Krekas, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
The attack killed Pal Kola, a security guard stationed outside the office. Police opened an investigation and later that day found an abandoned Range Rover that had been set on fire about 25 miles from the scene of the attack, according to those reports.
“Albanian authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the recent attack on Top Channel and ensure that those responsible for killing a security guard at the outlet’s headquarters are brought to justice,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Authorities must treat this incident as high priority and transparently investigate whether the attack was connected to the broadcaster’s reporting.”
In a statement, Top Channel called the incident an “unprecedented terrorist act” that was “carried out to damage and attack the mission of free media and the power of free speech.”
“We constantly report on different issues and for the moment we are not able to make any connection with a specific reporting,” Krekas told CPJ, adding that the outlet had “not received any specific threats before the attack.”
In February, three men threatened and attacked a three-person crew for Top Channel‘s investigative TV show Fiks Fare as they were documenting illegal mining.
CPJ emailed the Albanian national police for comment but did not immediately receive any response.