Reporters Without Borders has called on the Serbian authorities to investigate whether the government spied on and intercepted emails between an opposition politician and an independent newspaper. They stated that the findings of any investigation must be made public.
On 16 February, Serbian news agency TANJUG published a statement by Minister of Defence Aleksander Vulin in response to a critical opinion piece by Dragan Sutanovac, a former defense minister now in opposition. In his statement, he said that Sutanovac’s opinion piece had been published in Nedeljnik when in fact it had not. It had however been emailed to the editor-in-chief of Nedeljnik, Veljko Lalic who had taken the decision not to publish it.
The critical opinion piece was not published, but rather some of its content was used in an interview for Kurir. Several points that were in the unpublished opinion piece were not included in the interview but were referred to in Vulin’s statement.
This caused suspicions that the government was monitoring email communications of either politicians, journalists, or both.
Pauling Ades Mevel, head of the European RSF Bureau said “we are concerned that emails between opposition politicians and independent media outlets are being spied on and intercepted by the government. We call on the authorities to shed all possible light on the matter.”
Such episodes highlight the Serbian media’s lack of independence and their collusion with certain politicians. Serbia has been falling for years in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index and is ranked 90th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Index.Serbian Go