Albanians condemn gun shots fired at investigative journalist family home

Tirana, Albania | Aug 31 (Tirana Echo) –  Albanian politicians, journalists and civil society activists have condemned last night a gun attack at the parental home of investigative journalist Klodiana Lala.

Unidentified persons shot bullets at the main door and walls of the parental house of Lala in Tirana the previous night during early morning hours. It is yet not clear whether the attack was intended for the journalist, however no conflicts are known so far of other members of the family.

No one was hurt and Albania’s Police Authority has said they are working on identifying the culprits.

Lala who works for TV channel News24 is renowned for her aggressive and thorough style of investigative journalism often probing and digging for information on corruption and organized crime across Albania.  

Speaking for News24, Lala said her family members and herself do not have any known conflicts with anyone and that she suspected the gun attack was linked to her media work.

I suspect this attack is a result of my work as a journalist,” she wrote, adding that her family was fine but deeply shocked by the event.

The Albanian Police have stated they have taken Lala’s family under protection following the attack.

Associations of journalists condemned the attack and called on Albania’s authorities to act fast to identify the culprits.

We urge the authorities to condemn the attack and to protect reporters,” the Union of Albanian Journalists said.

Albania’s political spectrum was quick to react, condemning the attack and calling on prosecutors to investigate without any delays.

Prime Minister Edi Rama also condemned the attack, calling it “barbaric“.

The attack should be investigated promptly and the state structures are maximally engaged,” Rama wrote on Twitter.

The country’s President Ilir Meta expressed his solidarity through a telephone conversation with Lala.

I encourage all rule of law institutions to fully investigate this grave incident. Freedom of media is essential for human rights in a democratic society in Albania,” – said Meta in a statement.

Opposition leader and Deocratic Party Chairman Lulzim Basha, blamed the attack on the government’s  “links with criminals“.

This is a Mafioso style message to journalists,” Basha said in a statement.

International organizations including Reporters Without Borders, the OSCE, EU and US Embassies in Tirana have also condemned the attack.

Following the attack, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir issued his strong condemnation of the shooting. 

I am deeply concerned about the shooting, which took place at the house of the journalist’s parents. This attack is a direct threat and unacceptable intimidation against the journalist which contributes to a climate of fear and insecurity for the press in the region,” Désir said.

There must be no impunity for such attacks against journalists” he added.

The attack on Lala’s home is the first of its kind in 28 years of post-communist Albania. Although journalists suffer intimidation from time to time, the high level of auto-censorship means journalists never get to the chase of any investigative reports.

While Albanian media seem vigorous and fairly diverse, media outlets often display a strong political bias, and their reporting is influenced by the economic or political interests of their owners.

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

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