The back of a police officer in front of a stone building.
A Kosovo police officer stands in front of a polling station in Zvecan on April 21, 2024. The Insajderi newsroom received around 10 phone calls on June 24 and 25, threatening its journalists with physical violence if they did not remove an article. (Photo: AFP)

Kosovo newspaper Insajderi threatened with injury, arson after criminal report

Berlin, July 3, 2024—Kosovo authorities should conduct a quick and thorough investigation into the threats of physical violence made against the staff of the online investigative newspaper Insajderi, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure the journalists’ safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

The Insajderi newsroom received around 10 phone calls from various numbers on June 24 and 25, threatening its journalists with physical violence if they did not remove a June 24 article, according to reports and recordings of the calls by the outlet and a statement by the local trade union Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK). The article identified a Kosovo man who was arrested on several charges, including money laundering and fraud, at the request of Swiss authorities.

Insajderi’s editor-in-chief, Visar Duriqi, told CPJ that the callers presented themselves as family members of the detained man and threatened the newspaper with an arson attack unless they removed the article. The callers also said the family “made a mistake by keeping you alive.”

In an email to CPJ, a press official for the Public Prosecutor Office of Pristina, Laureta Ulaj, confirmed an ongoing criminal investigation that identified one alleged perpetrator. Prosecutors have ordered that person’s arrest.

“It is a welcome development that Kosovo authorities reacted quickly to the threats made by unknown individuals to the editorial staff of the newspaper Insajderi,” said Attila Mong, CPJ’s Europe representative. “Authorities must bring all perpetrators to justice, take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the journalists working there and demonstrate that threats against journalists do not go unpunished.”

Duriqi told CPJ that Insajderi journalists had received many threats of physical violence since their founding in 2016, including death threats against former editor-in-chief Vehbi Kajtazi in 2021. In February 2021, masked assailants attacked and injured Duriqi outside his home.

Duriqi told CPJ that police have not made progress in these cases.

A joint international press freedom mission to Kosovo in 2022 noted that the safety of journalists and impunity for crimes against journalists continue to pose challenges. While physical assaults remain rare, journalists are often targeted with smears and threats of physical violence and death. The judicial process in criminal and civil cases remains slow, and journalists expressed concern over the lack of prosecutions.