The Nova.rs portal said on Tuesday that pro-regime Belgrade tabloid Informer reported that staff at a Belgrade think-tank are among the sources for an investigative report by the London Guardian three days before the story was published.
Informer said that staff at the Belgrade Center for Security Policy (BCSP) were among the sources for the Guardian story that called Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic a populist and pro-Kremlin authoritarian.
Nova.rs said that the question now is whether the Guardian journalists who worked on the story were under surveillance.
Informer’s story titled “Serbian NGO Haters Preparing Attack on President Vucic” said that the Guardian was writing what it called an extremely negative story about Vucic and events in Serbia, naming the BCSP and Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI) as sources.
Nova.rs said that the tabloid often takes Vucic’s side in defense from alleged attacks but unusually this time it published the names of sources days before the Guardian story was published.
The BCSP asked how Informer learned that one of its researchers was talking to the Guardian, whether the British reporters and NGO staff were under surveillance and whether the authorities would react to protect the NGOs.
BCSP International Advisory Committee President Srdjan Cvijic told the portal that he has no idea how Informer learned who the Guardian reporters would be talking to.
“If we knew, the question would not be raised. The authorities should investigate whether there was any illegal surveillance of journalists or our researchers who were interviewed for the story. We know who the competent authorities are – the Security Intelligence Agency (BIA), police, prosecutors,” Cvijic said.
Opposition parties that organized the recent Serbian Against Violence protest also raised the question of possible surveillance. Their suspicions were aroused by President Aleksandar Vucic’s statement that the opposition would block the Gazela bridge. That possibility was raised as a suggestion at a protest organizers’ meeting a day earlier.