Journalist Ylli Rakipi and his lawyer Dorian Matlija on Friday accused Prime Minister Edi Rama of pressuring judges.
Rama has sued Rakipi for defamation but yesterday outside the court he called out the Prime Minister for the way he speaks about journalists, and pressures the courts.
“I have two ongoing lawsuits with the prime minister. He accuses me of having defamed him, while he calls all journalists trash bins and other insulting names […] There is some important news related to these ongoing lawsuits. He [Rama] has stated in the Parliament that he is going to win all lawsuits as if he were the judge. He might control the courts and vetting process, but Albanian courts are not the only ones that adjudicate over cases; we will go as far as the Strasbourg court [if needed].”
Rakipi’s lawyer, Dorian Matlija, said the Prime Minister’s statements put the court under pressure.
“There are two lawsuits filed by the prime minister; two of the many ones he has filed against public figures. His statement in Parliament is out of place. The European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] has also emphasized this in previous cases. This kind of statements put the court under pressure. This majority has repeatedly engaged in pressuring the judicial system.
[…] judges are under the vetting pressure. Our aim is to solve the case [even if we have to go] as far as the Strasbourg Court [ECHR]. Whatever the prime minister does, we will take our steps. This man is out there to openly challenge the judiciary.”
Over the past two years, Albanian journalists have faced a growing number of attacks both generally and from the government. A large number of journalists have been threatened, attacked, intimidated, or faced with litigation and 2019 was a year that registered the most threats on the Council of Europe media freedom platform.
Ylli Rakipi is on trial after frequently criticizing the government through his show and portal “Te Paekspozuarit” (The Unexposed). The show was taken off the air by News24 along with Adi Krasta’s “A Show” in August 2019 due to alleged government pressure.The shutdown was criticized by the Council of Europe. A poll has shown that for Albanian journalists, the government is the biggest threat to media freedom, in particular, political interference and fears of losing their jobs.