Journalist Basir Çollaku Received Death Threat for Exposing Drug Trafficking Ties

Journalist Basir Çollaku received a death threat on a live TV show about two weeks ago. A phone caller on a Report TV morning show said that Çollaku must stop appearing on TV shows to talk about “drugs” otherwise he will “get a bullet behind his ear”.

“Edi Rama will win [local elections] in all 61 municipalities. […] I warn Basir Çollaku to keep his mouth shut or he will get a bullet behind his ear. He must keep his mouth shut and not talk about drugs. I warn him not to go on [TV] studios and talk about drugs”, the person calling said on live TV.

The caller added that Ilir Meta, Sali Berisha, Lulzim Basha and their families will all end up in jail.

On March 11, the journalist submitted a prosecution request for an investigation.

Basir Çollaku exposed the Tahiri-Habilaj connection through his interviews with Dritan Zagani and Antonio Nazeraj, two Albanian anti-drugs police officers who were forced to seek asylum in Europe. They both claimed that the Habilajs, an international drug trafficking group, were directly connected to the then Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri.

Prime Minister Edi Rama defended his minister Saimir Tahiri and attacked the whistleblower.

Çollaku was also threatened when he exposed the Rraja–Balla affair by broadcasting an interview with Emiljano Nuhu, another police officer who claimed that he was threatened at gun point, inside the police station, in the presence of Socialist Party MP Rrahman Rraja, SP Head of Parliamentary Group Taulant Bala and Kruja Mayor Artur Bushi. Officer Nuhu claimed that the high SP officials wanted him to drop the case and not further investigate the rape of a girl who had denounced the son of MP Rraja as the perpetrator. Right after the broadcast, someone calling Shijak TV said “We are going to kill you all”.

Again, amidst accusations that the Ministry of Interior was mishandling the case and protecting Socialist Party MPs, Prime Minister Edi Rama defended his minister Fatmir Xhafaj and attacked the whistleblower.

The Albanian government has recently been criticized by several international media organization and country reports regarding the state of media freedom in the country.