Journalists Condemn Threats by Slovenian National Security Official

By , 12 Apr 2021, 19:28 PM Politics
Žan Mahnič, the State Secretary for National Security. Žan Mahnič, the State Secretary for National Security.

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STA, 12 April 2021 - The journalists of the newspaper Delo, as well as the paper's editorial board and the Journalists' Association, have condemned threats levelled against Delo's Brussels correspondent Peter Žerjavič by Žan Mahnič, the state secretary for national security.

The journalists believe that the threat tweeted by Mahnič is yet another attempt to put pressure on the newspaper and individual journalists who are doing their job professionally and in line with the highest standards, also enjoying the support of the publisher leadership and editorial board.

Last week, Žerjavič tweeted a link to an article about Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša's criticism of the German public broadcaster ARD following a report by the broadcaster about pressure on the media in Slovenia.

"Comparing the main German public TV broadcaster with Stürmer or Pravda is hypocrisy never before seen at this level," Žerjavič added in reference to the Nazi and Communist propaganda papers to which Janša likened the ARD and which is also discussed in the article posted on the website of the ARD news show Tagesschau.

In response, Mahnič tweeted "who in the EU cares what some irrelevant ARD thinks. You should be worried how many more Thursday afternoons you will be having fun at Place du Luxembourg if Petrič fails to get annexes for the second rail track."

Mahnič was referring to Stojan Petrič, a co-owner and the director of the publisher Delo, who remains a prominent figure in the industrial conglomerate Kolektor, the company that recently signed key contracts with the government to build a new railway to the port of Koper.

Apart from current journalists working at Delo, an open letter was also issued by former journalists of the paper, saying Mahnič's tweet was not only a threat but also an attempt at blackmailing Delo.

"He has made these threats openly and without reservations, even though this is criminal blackmail, a brutal attack on the paper's autonomous editorial policy and media freedom in general. A new violent attempt at political subjugation of Delo is taking place via blackmail of the owner."

The letter also mentions alleged withdrawal of a commentary by Janez Markeš critical of the government from a Saturday edition after a part of the copy had already been printed.

"Was the editor under pressure from outside or under political pressure to do this? In any case, the paper has witnessed brutal (self)censorship, inconceivable in autonomous and credible journalism," former Delo journalists said.

They also noted that the pressure Delo had found itself under is not unlike the pressure to which public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and the press agency STA were being subjected.

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