ZAGREB, June 5, 2018 – The Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) on Monday condemned in the strongest terms threats which War Veterans Minister Tomo Medved made against Index news portal reporter Vojislav Mazzocco, saying that they represented a dangerous attack on journalists’ rights and media freedoms that were guaranteed by the Constitution and the Media Act.
The HND said in a press release that threats against journalists who are doing their job – in this case questioning the way the minister’s son was employed by the state-run security company AKD – could not be tolerated.
“In the article in which he raised the issue of the employment of the minister’s son, journalist Mazzocco gave an opportunity to Minister Medved to comment on the allegations made in the article and the minister’s comment was cited in a fair fashion. However, the subsequent phone call the minister made to the reporter, telling him that ‘if he continues to mention his son, it might awaken his (Medved’s) military spirit’, is an example of crude intimidation from a position of power. The detail which makes the minister’s actions particularly dangerous and is additional evidence of his inclination to abuse his ministerial position for private purposes is his threat that he would release alleged documents in the possession of his ministry that would allegedly compromise the reporter,” reads the press release.
State and public officials must be aware that upon stepping into office they do not enjoy the same level of the protection of privacy as ordinary citizens do, the HND said. The association asked the government and all relevant institutions to clearly condemn Medved’s threats and act accordingly.
The Index web portal said on Sunday that a day after Mazzocco’s article about the employment of the minister’s son in the state-run security company AKD was released, Minister Medved telephoned the reporter and threatened him during the conversation.
On Sunday evening, Medved said in a press release that he was sorry to see that his conversation with Mazzocco was perceived by the reporter as an attempt to intimidate him and adamantly dismissed the interpretation of his conversation as an attempt to threaten the reporter.