Macedonia (FYROM): over a hundred journalists illegally tapped

Macedonia’s government stands accused of tapping the phones of over 20,000 citizens, including more than 100 journalists.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and its Macedonian affiliate the Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) expressed grave concern about the publicly announced allegations of mass and unauthorized surveillance of journalists and citizens.

Zoran Zaev, leader of the center-left opposition party Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), has released today many details on the massive wire-tapping of more than 100 Macedonian journalists for more than three years.

“This violation of privacy directly affects press freedom in Macedonia, fueling a climate of fear and self-censorship. If the accusations are confirmed, then the Macedonians authorities clearly violated the right of journalists to protect their sources,” said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård, president of the EFJ.

“We screamed for years that the Macedonian government – in fact a small group of people within the government – is controlling the work of the journalists and the content of the media. We knew that. But it is awful now to hear the evidence of it,” said Tamara Causidis, president of SSNM.

The press freedom environment has seriously deteriorated in Macedonia, due to growing threats and harassment aimed at critical news outlets by the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Macedonia has fallen from 34th (2009) to 117th (2015) in the World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders. The highly controversial Kezarovski trial is still a serious matter of concern for the EFJ and the IFJ.

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