From: Alba Mborja
Artur Cani: Rama Demanded Dismissal of Critical Investigative Journalists

According to journalist Artur Cani, Prime Minister Edi Rama met with the owners of two TV stations to ask for the dismissal of journalists Ylli Rakipi and Blendi Fevziu.

Appearing on Fax News, Cani described what is yet another blow to media freedom and freedom of expression at the hands of the Prime Minister and his Socialist Party.

“It is scandalous that Edi Rama met this week with the owner of the channel where Ylli Rakipi, who is critical of the government, works and has asked for his dismissal.” 

He added: “Rama also met with [owner of TV Klan] Frangaj and asked for the departure of Fevziu.”

Cani stated that journalists Eni Vasili and Adi Krasta could also be set for the same fate.

“Rama has caught the media”, he concluded.

Ylli Rakipi is a well known investigative journalist with a popular show on News 24 and is something of a thorn in the side of Rama. Shortly after exposing the corruption regarding the tender of the Outer Ring Road in Tirana, he received numerous threats against his life in December 2018.

Then in January 2019, Rama filed a lawsuit against Rakipi for his reporting and it was alleged that he was trying to shut down broadcasts of his television show.

Rakipi responded by calling Rama “a new type of dictator like Erdogan or Putin” and reminded the Prime Minister that it was not his duty to control the media. 

He stated that Rama’s suit against him was nothing more than an attempt to damage his reputation and to close down his TV show. He added that “this is a political trial against a TV show that has exposed government dealings.”

He then filed a counter suit against Rama, alleging political pressure.

Blendi Fevziu is a renowned journalist and is the host of the talk show, Opinion which is broadcast on TV Klan. As well as his journalistic work, he has also written a book on communist dictator Enver Hoxha and Albania’s Communist Party, the predecessor to Rama’s ruling Socialist Party. 

The book was also turned into a documentary in Albanian and English, with journalist Alice Taylor (who has also been attacked by the government) working on the project.

Just before the controversial 30 June elections where the Socialist Party ran uncontested and “won”, plunging Albania into single-party rule, the government gave TV Klan a large amount of money supposedly to compensate them for making the switch from analog to digital.

The timing of the grant raised suspicions that the money was being used to buy favourable coverage from some of the countries biggest broadcasters prior to the elections.

Each day, the Albanian media comes under fresh attack from the Rama led socialist party government. When the Prime Minister is not calling journalists “public enemies” or “trashcans”, he is attempting to pass draconian media laws that local media and human rights organisations observe do not exist in democratic countries.