45 Albanian journalists seek to leave the country amid threats and intimidation – says the Union of Albanian Journalists

journalists protest tirana
Journalists protest in Tirana in solidarity with their colleague Klodiana Lala whose family home was attacked.

Tirana, Albania | Sept 05 (Tirana Echo) – Over 45 journalists from various media outlets have sought to seek political asylum or adopt the nationality of another country in order to flee threats they receive in Albania – says the Union of Albanian Journalists.

Speaking for Voice of America, UAJ head Aleksander Cipa said the number of journalists seeking to leave the country due to threats for performing their tasks has increased for the period 2017-2018.

12 journalists have sought political asylum in the EU and the US because of the danger they face in their job, while 34 others have asked for the nationality of other countries. Almost all of them have compiled filed of documents to prove threats in their job and are preparing to leave the country,” – said Cipa.

The warning comes days after a gun attack on the parental home of an investigative journalist, Klodiana Lala, near Tirana and after a ground reporter from Report TV was threatened at gunpoint while filming a crime scene in the notorious town of Laç in northern Albania.

Mr. Cipa told VOA that he does not think the culprits who attacked Mrs. Lala’s home will ever be found, like previous cases before. Scores of journalists and civil society representatives poured into social networks with messages of solidarity.

Albania enjoys an open and free media environment, however journalists exercise a high degree of auto-censorship, fearing they may disturb higher editorial policy controlled by media owners with huge business interests. The boundaries between media, politics and business have always been blurry in Albania.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Albania 75th out of 180 nations in its latest 2018 World Press Freedom Index, a slight improvement from 2017. No media worker or journalists have been killed or kidnapped in Albania in recent years.

However, a joint research project between Reporters Without Borders and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania, reveals that the Albania media scene is highly concentrated in the hand of few major owners, who have strong political affiliations, and control more than half of the audience share and nearly 90% of the market share.

The research comprises 44 media outlets, 25 companies and 25 media owners, with information on ownership and affiliated interests of owners collected through request for information, freedom of information requests and publicly available data.

Similarly, Freedom House classified Albania as “Partly Free” in its latest Freedom of the Press Report for 2017.

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