Independent journalist Jovo Martinović has been freed pending the outcome of his trial in Montenegro. (Family handout)
The Montenegro Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of investigative journalist Jovo Martinović on drug-related charges on July 12, 2023. (Photo: Family handout)

CPJ welcomes acquittal of Montenegro investigative journalist Jovo Martinović 

Berlin, July 13, 2023 – The Committee to Protect Journalists said it welcomed the Montenegro Supreme Court’s Wednesday decision to uphold a verdict in January to acquit journalist Jovo Martinović on drug trafficking charges.

“This decision finally puts an end to the eight-year legal saga involving prominent investigative journalist Jovo Martinović, who was twice wrongly convicted on drug-related charges,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “The verdict is a critical vindication for Martinović, and we can only hope Montenegro authorities have learned that covering crime does not mean a reporter is involved in criminal activity.”

Martinović, a prominent investigative journalist who covers crime, was detained in 2015, along with 17 others, on suspicion of participating in a drug trafficking ring and held for more than 14 months pending a trial on drug-related charges. Martinović denied the charges and said they were in retaliation for his journalism.

In 2019, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but the verdict was overturned. In a 2020 retrial, his sentence was reduced to one year; the journalist’s appeal, which was initially rejected, went to the Supreme Court, which ordered a second retrial. In January 2023, Martinović was acquitted of all charges. The prosecution’s appeal was denied Wednesday.