Standing Working Group for Safety of Journalists: Improving the Standards of Telecommunications Companies in Serbia is Necessary

photo: canva

The Standing Working Group for the Safety of Journalists, which consists of representatives of all journalists’ associations, the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Serbia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP), with the observer role of the OSCE representative, at an extraordinary session discussed the reports of the competent authorities in cases of threats to the newsroom and individual employees of the Danas daily, and those addressed to several other journalists.


As the investigation in the case of Danas is in progress, the details are not for public communication. The journalistic part of the Working Group had the opportunity to learn all the details about the activities of the police and the prosecution, both when it comes to international cooperation in this investigation, and when it comes to the course of the investigation in Serbia. The greatest difficulty for the investigation is access to detailed data of the provider Proton, which is used to encrypt messages in order to hide the identity of the senders and the content itself, and which operates legally under the laws of Switzerland.


Communication based on international legal assistance yielded limited data intended to reveal the sender of this threat that attracted both national and global attention and that may have elements of a terrorist threat. Additional information was requested.


At the same time, work is being done on the analysis of data from domestic providers because the information so far indicates that the concealment of the identity of the sender was done from Serbia, but due to the large amount of data that needs to be analyzed, and due to the fact that it is also related to the data requested from Swiss authorities, further work continues.


Also, a security assessment is being done for the aforementioned journalists, Danas newsroom and its leadership. Until the results of the security assessment are known, MUP will continue to secure the Danas newsroom. 


Another topic of the session was the case of open threats against journalist Dragojlo Blagojevic. After the prosecution rejected the charges, based on information from MUP that there were no calls to Blagojevic, the investigation was renewed after the engagement of the representatives of journalists within the Standing Working Group for the Safety of Journalists who established that calls were indeed made to Blagojevic. This case, too, requires cooperation at the international level, which is ongoing. 


The conclusion common to both cases of threats is that it is necessary to work on improving the standards of all telecommunication companies in Serbia when it comes to solving technical problems relating to the identification of telecommunication data relevant for solving cases of threats.


These and other cases of violence against journalists, threats and other cases reported to the prosecutor’s office and the Ministry of Interior, or via journalists’ associations, will be monitored through daily communication of the Standing Working Group.


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