Bosnian Investigative Journalist Avdo Avdic receives Death Threats

October 31, 2019 6:00 PM

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities should swiftly and thoroughly investigate threats made to journalist Avdo Avdić and ensure his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On October 22, Avdić, a reporter for the investigative outlet Žurnal, was forwarded a threatening video via messaging app, which CPJ reviewed, featuring Mirza Gacanin, whom Avdić had alleged in his reporting to be connected with a drug cartel, according to a report by his employer and the journalist, who communicated with CPJ via email.

In the video, Gacanin says that an unnamed journalist “will be searched for in the canals,” and also makes an obscene reference to the journalist’s children. On October 23, Gacanin messaged Avdić directly, confirming that he was the unnamed journalist in his video, Avdić said.

On October 24, Gacanin sent Avdić a video of a sheep on the ground, which Avdić told CPJ was a reference to a sheep ready to be slaughtered. Avdić forwarded the messages to the Sarajevo police, who opened an investigation into the threats on October 23, he said. He was interviewed by police on October 28, he told CPJ.

CPJ repeatedly called Mirza Gacanin, but he did not answer the phone.

“These threats made against journalist Avdo Avdić are extremely chilling, and authorities must take them seriously,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Threatening a reporter because of his coverage is completely unacceptable, and Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities must take every possible measure to ensure the safety of Avdić and his family.”

Earlier, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, and the Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Kathleen Kavalec, strongly condemned today a death threat sent to Avdo Avdić, a journalist of the Žurnal news website.

On 24 October, a person with an alleged criminal background recorded a video message in which he insulted and threatened Avdić by saying that: “they will search for him in ditches”. According to media reports, this threat is closely related to Avdić’s investigative reporting on money laundering and other criminal offences.

“I strongly condemn this heinous threat, which is totally unacceptable. It is of utmost importance that the relevant authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina investigate this case without any delay, and bring the person responsible for this message to justice,” Désir said. “Journalists must be able to do their investigative work without fearing for their lives. Those who utter such threats must face the harshest justice. This is necessary to protect the safety of journalists.”

Ambassador Kavalec added: “The BiH authorities should take these threats seriously, and do everything in their power to prevent it from happening. Investigative journalists play an important role in exposing serious crimes and can aid the authorities in their investigations.”

Désir and Kavalec reiterated their concern that this is not an isolated case against Žurnal and Avdić.

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