Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the aggressive campaign that several news media have been waging in the past few days against “Life in Kosovo,” an investigative programme broadcast by public TV service RTK, and the programme’s presenter, Jeta Xharra, who has received death threats.
The campaign started after a Life in Kosovo report about alleged atrocities by the Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) during the 1998-99 Kosovo War. A Life in Kosovo crew was also expelled from the municipality of Skenderaj (in the central Drenica region) while preparing a report there.
The smear campaign intensified after a programme about press freedom in Kosovo on 28 May that described how the government used its advertising to influence the media. Xharra also referred to recent dismissals of journalists regarded as critical of the authorities.
The campaign is being led by the tabloid newspaper Infopress, which accuses Life in Kosovo of denigrating Drenica, claims that Xharra is a Serbian spy and is demanding the programme’s withdrawal. The newspaper has also repeatedly published threatening letters from readers, thereby endorsing their content. “Jeta is exposing herself to the possibility of a short life,” an Infopress journalist wrote on 4 June.
“This behaviour by Infopress is appalling and dangerous,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The death threats being expressed in the newspaper are endangering the lives of this programme’s journalists. Infopress has strayed far beyond the boundaries of news and information. It is guilty of unacceptable editorial practices.
“We appeal to the journalist community in Kosovo to find a solution to this crisis and thereby demonstrate that it can regulate itself and avoid regrettable excesses. We also urge the authorities to carry out an investigation to identify those who made death threats against the Life in Kosovo staff.
“Finally, we call on the European institutions present in Kosovo to pursue their efforts to guarantee a positive environment for Kosovar journalists.”