CPJ Condemns Threats Against Journalists in Yugoslavia

State Department Calls Crackdown 'Disaster' for Free Expression

| News Alert Index | CPJ Home |


Washington, D.C., October 9, 1998 -- Representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) met today with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State John Shattuck to express alarm over Serbian government threats against the independent media in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The CPJ delegation gave the assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labor a copy of an open letter sent today to independent journalists in Yugoslavia condemning the recent threats of retaliation and pressure on the media for their coverage of the Kosovo crisis.

Meeting with Shattuck from CPJ were David Marash of ABC News, a board member; executive director Ann K. Cooper, and Europe program coordinator Chrystyna Lapychak. They were joined by Marilyn Greene, executive director of the World Press Freedom Committee.

Shattuck assured them that the State Department was closely monitoring the recent media crackdown, calling it "a disaster" for freedom of expression.

"There's no more important organization or instrument for promoting human rights and principles of democracy than the independent media," Shattuck told them. "Those brave individuals and groups in Belgrade and other places in Serbia engaging in independent media work are those we most support," he said.

In its letter, CPJ expressed its concern about the threats of reprisal, which are aimed at journalists working for Western news organizations, as well as against local radio and television stations rebroadcasting Serbian-language news from the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and British and French radio services.

"CPJ vigorously condemns the Serbian regime's attempt to use the independent media in Yugoslavia as pawns in their perilous game with the Western alliance over Kosovo," said CPJ in its letter.

Read CPJ's Open Letter to Yugoslavia's Independent Media

Read CPJ's Letter of Protest to Yugoslavian President Slobadan Milosevic