From: Exit Staff
RAI3 Challenges Rama to Publish Data on Cannabis Cultivation in Albania

Italian public broadcaster RAI3 has challenged Albania’s Prime Minister to publish his government’s data on cannabis plantations in the country, following Rama’s attack on their journalists and rebuke of the report that claimed cannabis cultivation has increased by 1,200 percent in the last year.

RAI3 also dismissed Rama’s claim on Twitter yesterday, according to which the Italian government had rebuked their report and figures. Contrary to Rama’s claim, last night report on RAI3 said that their report’s data was rebuked by the Albanian police. Their report did not mention any statement on the issue by the Italian government.

Exit News brings parts of the last night’s report focused on justice reform and media freedom in Albania:

“We reported on Brexit but there are those that would like to enter the European Union, countries like Albania, from which the union demands progress in the fight against organized crime and corruption.

We have reported on the huge increase in cannabis plantations in this country, figures that were rebuked today by the Albanian police.

However, unlike in the past, this year they didn’t provide any official data. Based on our sources, we confirm our data.

Tonight we will take a look at how Albania is trying to comply with other European standards in other sectors – justice and media freedom.”

Yesterday Rama tweeted that the Italian government had rebuked the RAI3 report.

“Here is the official truth regarding the scandalous RAI3 report! Thank you to Italian police authorities for helping us every day in our common victory against cannabis cultivation, as well as for helping us in this particular case to win against a huge lie by a media,” Rama wrote on Twitter on Friday, attaching screenshots of an article in Italian.

The article states that during an event in Italy focused on collaboration between the two countries, “authorities specifically pointed out that the news in the [RAI3] report do not correspond to accurate data and cannot cast shadows neither on the real effectiveness of the fight against cannabis cultivation, nor on the important results achieved over the past few years.”

It’s not clear from the article who the “authorities” were and what exactly they stated. Rama claimed it was the Italian police, rebuking the “scandalous RAI3 report” and their “huge lie”.

The “Europe’s border” series of reports is prepared by journalist Valerio Cataldi, who was threatened a few years ago for reporting on former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri’s involvement in drug trafficking, at a time when cannabis cultivation in Albania reached new records.

In 2019, the U.S. State Department published a damning report on drug cultivation and drug trafficking in Albania. Several reports from the previous year also painted a similar situation.

Besides his usual attacks on all critical Albanian media, which he calls “trashbins”, Prime Minister Edi Rama has attacked several international media before, including The Voice of America and The Bild over the Albanian Electiongate. The latter relates prosecution wiretaps showing Rama and several high Socialist Party officials engage in conversations, allegedly focused on rigging of two elections in Albania, in collusion with criminal groups mostly engaged in drug trafficking.