Slovak press under fire after PM Fico shooting

Police guard the Specialized Criminal Court in Pezinok, north of Bratislava, Slovakia, where the suspect in the shooting of Prime Minister Robert Fico is being charged on May 18, 2024. (Photo: AFP/ Vladimir Simicek)

Almost immediately after the attempted assassination of Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico on May 15, members of the ruling coalition blamed the attack on journalists by linking it to their critical coverage and issued retaliatory threats.

“This is your fault,” said Ľuboš Blaha, a deputy speaker of parliament and a member of Fico’s Smer party, who has used social media to accuse the press of bias and to smear journalists. “You, the liberal media, the political opposition, what hatred you spread against Robert Fico, you built the gallows for him,” he told reporters before the prime minister was discharged from hospital later in May.

CPJ was in Slovakia at the time of the attack meeting with journalists, press freedom advocates, and diplomats. They described the atmosphere as “depressing,” “toxic,” and “unprecedented.” Read CPJ’s new analysis on why the attempt on the prime minister’s life might represent a new chapter in the government’s war on the media.

Evan Gershkovich trial date set for June 26
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich speaks with his lawyers before a court hearing in Moscow on April 23, 2024. (Photo: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva)
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich speaks with his lawyers before a court hearing in Moscow on April 23, 2024. (Photo: Reuters/Tatyana Makeyeva)

As a Russian court on Monday set the beginning of the espionage trial of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich for June 26, the Committee to Protect Journalists renewed its call to immediately release him and drop all charges against him.

“The start of Gershkovich’s trial comes after he has already spent more than 14 months behind bars for no other reason than his work as a journalist,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator.

It is not known how long Gershkovich’s trial will last, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.


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Journalists Attacked

Myat Thu Tan

MURDERED

Myat Thu Tan, a contributor to the local news website Western News and correspondent for several independent Myanmar news outlets, was shot and killed on January 31, 2024, while in military custody in Mrauk-U in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State.

He was arrested on September 22, 2022, and held in pre-trial detention under a broad provision of the penal code that criminalizes incitement and the dissemination of false news for critical posts he made on his Facebook page. Myat Thu Tan had not been tried or convicted at the time of his death.

The journalist’s body was found buried in a bomb shelter, with the bodies of six other political detainees, and showed signs of torture.

Myanmar’s military junta has cracked down on journalists and media outlets since seizing power in a February 2021 coup.

In at least 8 out of 10 cases, the murderers of journalists go free. CPJ is waging a global campaign against impunity.

The Committee to Protect Journalists promotes press freedom worldwide.

We defend the right of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.

journalists killed in 2024 (motive confirmed)
imprisoned in 2023
missing globally