Head of Serbian Government’s Communications Bureau Suing Humanitarian Law Center and B92

The head of the Serbian Government’s CommunicationsBureau, Vladimir Popović, has filed a suit with the First Municipal Court in Belgrade, seeking two million dinars in compensation from the Humanitarian Law Center and B92 Radio-Television. Popović claims that B92 broadcast “false information” from the Humanitarian Law Center on April 24, 2003, namely, that the Serbian Government, via the head of its Communications Bureau, was exerting pressure on the media and journalists on a daily basis during the state of emergency.

In the same suit, Popović seeks compensation from the Humanitarian Law Center for reporting, and B92 for broadcasting, “false information” concerning his call to the chief editor of Beta News Agency on April 14, in connection with the publication of a letter from Gradimir Nalić, advisor to former FRY president Vojislav Koštunica. Beta subsequently retracted its report of this information.

In this manner, according to Popović, B92 and the Humanitarian Law Center have injured his honor and reputation and caused him emotional distress.

The Humanitarian Law Center stands by its position that Communications Bureau head Vladimir Popović has – while acting as a government official – persistently called, threatened and insulted journalists, as Gordana Suša, Miloš Vasić, Željko Cvijanović, Veran Matić, Aleksandar Tijanić and other journalists have already stated publicly.

As concerns Popović’s claim regarding the falsity of the information that Beta retracted its report about Nalić’s letter following intervention by the head of the Communications Bureau, the Humanitarian Law Center points out that, in its statement dated April 25, it admitted to having erroneously attributed this to Vladimir Popović personally.

However, the Humanitarian Law Center fully stands by its position that Beta News Agency withdrew its already filed report after an employee of the Serbian Government’s Communications Bureau telephoned chief editor Dragan Janjić and told him that the letter by Nalić violated the restrictions placed on the media under the state of emergency. The fact that this call took place was not disputed by Janjić in his telephone conversation with HLC executive director Nataša Kandić on April 24.