HLC Response To BETA News Agency Denial
The Belgrade BETA news agency has denied the Humanitarian Law Center’s report that it took a letter by Gradimir Nalić, an attorney and formerly advisor to FR Yugoslavia President Vojislav Koštunica, off its news service on 14 April this year at the intervention of Vladimir Popović, head of the Serbian government’s Communications Office. In an interview with Radio B92, the agency’s editor-in-chief Dragan Janjić said he had taken the decision because the item was not in accordance with the requirement that the media refrain from reporting the statements of suspects and their counsel during the state of emergency.
The HLC notes that BETA and its editor-in-chief neglected to say that the item was withdrawn only after an official of the Communications Office telephoned Janjić and said publication of the Nalić letter was in violation of the state-of-emergency restrictions on the media. When HLC executive director Nataša Kandić spoke with Janjić on 24 April, he did not deny that his decision was taken after the telephone call from the Communications Office.
The HLC was mistaken when it said the call was made by Vladimir Popović personally, but it stands by its report that it did take place and was a form of pressure put to bear on the media during the state of emergency.