Journalists threatened sign now

From public sources, You probably learned that the ICTY in The Hague has indicted three prominent journalists in CroatiaIvica Marijacic (editor in chief Hrvatski list Zadar), Domagoj Margetic (former editor in chief of Hrvatsko slovo and Novo hrvatsko slovo) and Stjepan Seselj. It is also our understanding that another Croatian journalist, Josip Jovic, the former editor-in-chief and current popular columnist for Slobodna Dalmacija, is also in the process of being indicted by the ICTY, aslo editor in chief of Hrvatsko slovo weeekly Marijan Krizic. These journalists are being indicted for the alleged crime of contempt of the tribunal, pursuant to Rule 77 of th e ICTYs Rules of Procedure and Evidence, for publishing the identity and statements of protected witnesses in the Tihomir Blaskic case. The journalists face a possible punishment of a 100,000 Euro fine and seven years in prison.

In part, the indictments appear to be based on the publication of "secret testimony" given by Croatian President Stipe Mesic to the ICTY. It is our understanding that at the time of the publication, the testimony was already available on the Internet and that the fact of President Mesic's testimony had already been publicly admitted by him. Even if this were not true, it would also appear that it is the responsibility of the tribunal, and not that of the Croatian or international media, to make sure that secret witness testimony is not leaked to the public.

As you know, it is a common tactic of dictatorial regimes to prosecute journalists who criticize public officials by using what appear to be accepted legal doctrines, such as defamation. Thus, we are particularly disturbed that some of the journalists indicted have heretofore written articles critical of the ICTY.

It is the role of journalists in a free society to hold public officials accountable for their actions, and to reveal sensitive, even privileged information in order to inform the public. The publics right to be informed, along with the rights of journalists to publish their reporting free of any censorship, is at the core of an open, free press.

We believe that these indictments clearly fall within the definition of what constitutes attacks on the press.

We therefore request Your urgent action and help to indicted Croatian journalists and we ask You to investigate the ICTY's actions and determine whether they are consistent with generally accepted notions of freedom of the press that prevail in truly democratic societies.


Domagoj Margetic, journalist

Indicted in ICTY-Hague International Tribunal

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