|Name and Surname
|City / Location
|Type of incident
|Actual attacks on journalists
|By public officials
|Was journalist`s association informed
|Were authorities informed?
|Case was initiated ex officio by the Prosecutor’s Office
Elton Qyno, a journalist with Ora News television in Albania, was questioned for nearly seven hours on December 13, 2023, in Tirana by the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office (SPAK) and specifically asked to reveal his sources. In a public statement, SPAK maintained that Qyno published articles on Ora News that are suspected of illegally disclosing secret data from preliminary investigations related to a criminal case (No.75/2022). During his questioning on December 13, 2023, Qyno was asked to explain how he obtained the data, to disclose his sources, and why he chose to publish them, which are actions prohibited by procedural law. Qyno firmly kept his source confidential, invoking journalistic professional secrecy.
In response, SPAK then obtained three orders by the First Instance of the Court against Corruption and Organized Crime that allowed investigators of SPAK to conduct a personal inspection of Elton Qyno, inspection of his private residence and office at Ora News TV, and seizure of computer data in his workplace, files, CD, his car keys (later returned), and home laptop as well as two mobile phones found in a coffee bar next to SPAK. Previously, SPAK, with an order dated June 14, 2022, had prohibited Elton Qyno from publishing data related to this criminal investigation, who nonetheless continued to publish articles, leading to a new investigation by SPAK under criminal procedure number 245/2023 for potential illegal disclosure of secret data. While being questioned on December 13, Qyno signed a declaration provided by SPAK investigators and committed not to publish any information from the ongoing investigation of this case. He has not published anything since then.
On December 15, 2023, Qyno expressed his disappointment regarding SPAK’s actions. He has appealed the order to seize equipment before the Special Court of Appeal Against Corruption and Organized Crime (here). The journalist’s lawyer, Dorian Matlija, maintains the first-instance court orders are inclusive, issued in haste, and do not allow for the journalist or his lawyer to be present during the investigators’ inspections of his private residence and office. The journalist’s lawyer claims these orders violate standards established by the High Court on protecting sources and journalistic materials. The orders of the First Instance of the Court against Corruption and Organized Crime violate the ECtHR standard on source protection, according to reactions from Qyno’s lawyer and other independent organizations in Albania.
Updates on the case:
On December 26 and 27, 2023, the Special Court of the First Instance addressed several key issues regarding the seizure of journalist Elton Qyno’s belongings by SPAK. The court, after deliberations with lawyer Dorian Matlija, deemed the seizure of a USB drive from Qyno’s car illegal and ordered its return. Similarly, it decided to return CDs with folk and Greek songs and officials’ property declarations, held by Qyno for article preparation and under ILDKPI review. However, the court refused to return two mobile phones, seized without a court order from the “Class” bar, and two computers, along with other documents, seized from Qyno’s workplace and home. Additionally, Judge Atalanta Zeqiraj is involved in a delay, deemed unclear and inconsistent with Penal Code provisions, in transferring the criminal file to the GJKKO Appeal. This has impeded the scheduling of a trial for the lawyer Matlija’s appeal, which has been pending for over ten days. In response to these developments, Qyno’s lawyer plans to appeal the decision in the Court of Appeal, indicating a potential double trial at the appellate level and highlighting the complex and contentious nature of Qyno’s legal proceedings.
The decision taken on 06.01.2024 by the Special Court of Appeals: “The Court of First Instance’s decision number 501, permitting the inspection of journalist Elton Qyno’s apartment, building, workplace, and personal search, has been upheld. This ruling was affirmed by Appeals Judge Danjela Shirka, who dismissed journalist Qyno’s appeal to revoke the initial decision made on December 13, 2023, by Judge Atalanta Zeqiraj”
`Implementing the partial decision of the Court of First Instance, today the SPAK special prosecutor’s office returned only a small part of the seized items. Specifically, six CDs and 1 USB with music belonging to my eldest son. Meanwhile, my two work phones, my 10-year-old son’s phone, about eight USB sticks with work and family materials, two computers, one for home and one for work, as well as professional documents, continue to be seized` stated journalist Qyno.
SafeJournalists Network has reacted on the case as follows:
19 January 2024
On 17 January 2024, the UN Human Rights Committee registered communication No. 4565/2024, which the non-governmental organization Res Publica filed on behalf of Qyno by the individual communications procedure under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Albania is a state party. Acting under Rule 94 (interim measures necessary to avoid possible actions that could have irreparable consequences for the rights invoked) of its rules of procedure, the Committee requested the Albanian authorities to refrain from carrying out any further inspection, dissemination, or judicial processing of the material seized from the journalist. It requested that information or observations on questions of admissibility and the merits be submitted by 17 July 2024.