Journalism Group Condemns Ban of Journalist
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), announced on Friday its condemnation of the Montenegrin government's attempt to silence journalists critical of its behavior. SEEMO said this attempt was most recently demonstrated by Montenegrin officials' decision to ban OCCRP reporter Miranda Patrucic from a NATO-backed seminar there, where she was scheduled to speak about reporting on corruption.
Patrucic and OCCRP recently published an investigation on First Bank, a large commercial bank owned by the family of former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. The recent OCCRP investigation exposed corruption in dealings between the bank and the government. The bank was bailed out by taxpayers after years of giving out sweetheart loan deals to family and friends of Milo Djukanovic and to a series of drug traffickers and criminals, man y of which were never paid back.
The Vienna-based IPI affiliate noted that Montenegro’s politicians have stepped up pressure on journalists ahead of parliamentary elections in that country.
“I am amazed that an international institution invites and then uninvites a journalist," said SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said. "I am also amazed that Montenegrin politicians go as far as to influence international seminars and ban speakers. Montenegro is about to join the EU and free speech does not seem to be guaranteed."