Geneva, 27 July 2022 – Award-winning journalist of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) Serbia and weekly news magazine Vreme, Jelena Zorić is facing intimidation by a former state secretary in the Serbian Interior Ministry, Dijana Hrkalović.

The former official, Hrkalović, who has been accused of abuse of office, made incorrect and threatening statements about Zorić on a television show on 25 July 2022, as reported by the Coalition for Freedom of the Media and Journalists’ Association of Serbia. They also condemned the attack against Zorić, expressing their support and asking the Serbian institutions to react.

Hrkalović accused Zorić of selective investigative journalism. She claimed that Zorić, because of her close relationship with the deputy prosecutor for organized crime, covered up email correspondence between him and a criminal from editors at the television N1 channel, where she worked. Former programme director of N1, Jugoslav Ćosić, who worked at that time in N1, publicly said that Hrkalovićka’s statement was not true. ‘I personally knew about that story, and it was published on N1,’ said Ćosić.

Zorić collaborates with the GI-TOC’s Observatory of Illicit Economies in South Eastern Europe, which supports media and civil society initiatives in the Western Balkans in their fight against organized crime and corruption.

Fatjona Mejdini, director of the Observatory, said: ‘We strongly condemn the threats directed at Jelena Zorić. Disinformation and intimidation can endanger the safety of professional journalists. Members of the media are a pillar in the fight against organized crime and corruption, and should be seen as partners in this fight by state institutions. Therefore, it is important that the Serbian prosecution authorities react to the complaint filed with them for this case,’ she said.

Foto: Novi magazin/Đurađ Šimić