Bosnian journalists protest office attack, demand protection

Journalists protest outside the offices of soccer club Sarajevo in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Monday, Sept. 30, 2019. Several dozen journalists protested in Bosnia after assailants forced online staff of a radio station to revoke a news item. Police have detained two people over the incident on Friday when assailants who said they were soccer fans threatened the staff of news portal until they removed the news that a fan of soccer club Sarajevo received five years in prison in Belarus for cocaine possession. (Journalists Union of Bosnia Hercegovina via AP)

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SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Dozens of journalists on Monday marched in Bosnia’s capital of Sarajevo after thugs forced a radio station to remove a story from its website.

Protesters gathered outside the offices of soccer club Sarajevo and then walked through the city center, demanding better protection and tougher penalties for attacks on the press.

Police detained two people over Friday’s incident when assailants who said they were soccer fans of the club threatened the staff of the news portal until they removed the news that a Sarajevo fan was convicted in Belarus of cocaine possession.

The media outlet said the editor was kept in a “de facto hostage situation,” his family was also threatened and he was forced to “physically remove the text from the system.”

The suspects are facing legal proceedings but have been allowed to remain out of prison, according to Bosnian media.

“It is very hard to be a journalist in Bosnia and it’s getting harder and harder,” said Faruk Vele, one of the editors of the website. “We wish to say: State, protect us!”

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, praised Bosnia authorities for their “prompt reaction” following the incident.

“It is important to give a clear signal that attacks against journalists are always attacks against democracy and will not be tolerated,” Mijatovic said Monday.

The soccer club has condemned the invasion.

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