From: Exit Staff
Albanian Police Detain Journalist and Three National Theater Activists

The Albanian police have detained journalist Ergys Mërtiri and three other activists known for their opposition to the demolition of the National Theater. They were kept in the police station for about four hours and released before midnight on Saturday.

Activists Ergys Mërtiri, Astrit Seranaj, Donald Martini, Gentjan Hasani were detained in central Tirana, a few hundred meters away from where they protested daily for more than a year. The police are yet to explain the reasons for their detention.

Speaking to Fax News following their release, Mërtiri claimed the police had exercised violence on two of the activists. He said he hold them he was a journalist, but they took his phone forcibly and deleted several videos showing the police violence and brutality during the detention.

In a live Facebook video purportedly posted by Mërtiri, shot during the detention, a person entering or being pushed to enter a police car is seen, and voices of who appear to be the activists and policemen are heard. A voice is heard telling the person who is holding the video recorder to stop recording and delete the video.

Mërtiri said he saw the police stopping activist Astrit Seranaj, went closer, started to record the incident and asked them why they were stopping the man. He was told to stay away or they would detain him as well. The other two activists approached and asked the police the same question. They were then all detained and taken to the police station.

Mërtiri is a journalist who appears in shows across all TV channels in Albania and writes for several media outlets. He has been a regular activist against the demolition of the national theater. 

Activist Astrit Seranaj told Fax News he was badly hurt during the detention in the street, and in the police station. He said he was stopped while walking, for no apparent reason, and suffered police violence for about ten minutes until a police car came to take him away.

The detention of journalist and activist comes after several days of protests against police brutality following the killing of a 25-year-old man by a policeman during the coronavirus lockdown hours.