Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

https://www.rferl.org/

Watchdog Slams Bulgarian Court Ruling As 'Judicial Harassment' Of Journalists.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned as “judicial harassment” a recent court ruling in Bulgaria where two journalists and a website were found guilty of defamation for articles they published in 2018.

The Sofia City Court (SCC) found that Boris Mitov, now a journalist for RFE/RL’s Bulgarian Service, and Stoyana Georgieva, had caused physical and mental anguish to Svetlin Mihailov, a former chairman of the SCC, and ordered them and the website that published the articles four years ago to pay him damages amounting to 60,000 Bulgarian lev ($34,659).

In 2018, Mitov was covering Mihailov’s bid to become head of the SCC, Bulgaria's largest district court, for the news website Mediapool. At the time, Georgieva was the editor in chief of Mediapool.

Four of those articles were examined by the court, and Judge Daniela Popova ruled on December 21 that they contained “defamatory allegations against [Mihailov].”

Lawyers for Mitov and Georgieva argued that the articles in question contained information about Mihailov, including questions about his sizable wealth and property, that had appeared at the time and since then in other publications.

In her ruling, Popova did not specify exactly what extracts from the articles in question she found “indecent, vulgar, and cynical.”

Popova ordered the two journalists and Mediapool to each pay Mihailov 20,000 lev ($11,553).

“This gag-verdict could set a dangerous precedent for press freedom in Bulgaria,” said Pavol Szalai, the head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans desk, in a statement issued on January 14. “The disproportionate amount of damages that the journalists have been ordered to pay could have a chilling effect on media covering matters of public interest.”

“We urge the Sofia appeal court to overturn this decision. At the same time, we call on the government to adopt concrete provisions so that abusive lawsuits can no longer muzzle press freedom in Bulgaria,” Szalai added.

Popova took over the case only two months before issuing her final ruling, replacing another judge who had been dealing with it for nearly a year, Reporters Without Borders noted.

Her decision, the media monitoring group said, makes no mention of the fact that the plaintiff is a public figure and was, moreover, the court’s former president.

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly had called the court’s decision “outrageous” and said it was meant to intimidate some of Bulgaria’s finest investigative journalists for reporting publicly known facts.

“The public has a right to accountability, and intimidation tactics like this will not keep RFE/RL from informing its audience about issues of public interest,” Fly said in a statement.

Lawyers for the two journalists and Mediapool have appealed the ruling.

Related news
Highway Blocked In Serbia In Protest Against Lithium Mine.

Highway Blocked In Serbia In Protest Against Lithium Mine.

Hundreds of environmental activists in Serbia blocked a major highway in the capital, Belgrade, for about an hour on January 15 in the latest protest against London-based Rio Tinto's plans to develop a $2.4 billion lithium mine. The protests have ...

Radio Free Europe

Lavrov Calls For West To Respond Quickly To Kremlin Security Demands.

Lavrov Calls For West To Respond Quickly To Kremlin Security Demands.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow has "run out of patience" with the West and expects a written response to its demands for security guarantees within a week after diplomatic talks with NATO and the United States failed to make headway on...

Radio Free Europe

1 million COVID tests that expired in a Florida warehouse get FDA's permission for use.

1 million COVID tests that expired in a Florida warehouse get FDA's permission for use.

The FDA has extended the shelf life of up to 1 million expired COVID tests that were confirmed to have been stockpiled in a Florida warehouse last week, as the state deals with spike of cases. CBSN is CBS News’ 24/7 digital streaming news service ...

This is a 'slow-moving train wreck' of a presidency: Buck Sexton.

This is a 'slow-moving train wreck' of a presidency: Buck Sexton.

Buck Sexton, co-host of The Buck Sexton and Clay Travis Show, weighs in as Democratic approval of Biden drops 19 points from spring 2021. #FoxNews ... BUCK SEXTON: Unless there is some major pivot, they're heading into annihilation in the midterms...

One Dead in Southern India’s Traditional Bull-Taming Festival.

One Dead in Southern India’s Traditional Bull-Taming Festival.

A person died and dozens were injured at the annual traditional bull-taming festival, 'Jallikattu' in southern India's Madurai district, Friday, January 14, 2022. 'Jallikattu' is an Indian version of the Spanish sport that doesn't aim to kill the ...

Winter freeze, Bronx fire, Georgia Bulldogs: Week in Photos.

Winter freeze, Bronx fire, Georgia Bulldogs: Week in Photos.

A look at the week's top photos from around the globe.

Jon Stewart calls national anthem a 'weird ritual' at games.

Jon Stewart calls national anthem a 'weird ritual' at games.

The ‘Outnumbered’ panel reacts to Jon Stewart’s comments on standing for the national anthem during sports games. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encom...

Massive cyberattack breaches several Ukrainian government websites.

Massive cyberattack breaches several Ukrainian government websites.

Ukrainian officials are assessing the damage caused by a massive cyberattack on several of its government websites. CBS News cybersecurity analyst and former director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs says he...