|Name and Surname||Gjergj Erebara|
|City / Location||Tirane|
|Type of incident||Other threats to journalists|
|By whom||By public officials|
|Type of media||online|
|Was journalist`s association informed||No|
|Were authorities informed?||Case was not reported to the police|
On February 28th, BIRN Albania published a report by Gjergj Erebara titled “The tax authorities fine critical television channels to the government ‘for the salaries’ of journalists,” which shed light on the recent fines of the tax authorities on two media outlets: News24 and RTV Ora. Erebara reached out to the Press Office of the General Directory for Taxation seeking comment on the claims made by the affected outlets so as to cover all parties in the article. However, the office’s response came post-publication, wherein Erebara was accused of being unprofessional for not awaiting their response. It is important to note that the criticism of Erebara is unfounded since requests for comment are not bound by a timeline in accordance with the law on the right to information (Law no. 119/2014 refers only to requests for access to information).
In spite of this, the Press Office of the tax authority persisted in its disparagement of Erebara via email questioning his professionalism. When the Press Office send the responses, BIRN Albania promptly updated the article (here). On March 1st, 2023, the Press Office addressed an official complaint note to BIRN Albania, BIRN Serbia, BIRN Macedonia, the Union of Albanian Journalists, and the Albanian Professional Journalists, directing them to take appropriate measures concerning Erebara’s communication and actions.
The letter states “As the investigative media, we kindly ask you to investigate the above circumstances and take the necessary measures about the communication and actions of the journalist Erebara, who has tried to intimidate and damage the GDT’s image by disseminating untrue information. In accordance with the legal obligation, we ask from you correct the above-mentioned news in the media that have distributed it, with the purpose of correctly informing the public opinion”.
It is noteworthy that the Press Office predicated this demand on an article published by another media outlet, BalkanWeb, rather than Erebara’s original article which was published exclusively by BIRN Albania Reporter.al.
The tax authority’s communication with Erebara is concerning, as it may be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate a journalist. Such behavior towards journalists is unacceptable and may undermine the freedom of the press, which is a vital component of a healthy democracy. Erebara’s reportage was factual, and it is important that journalists are allowed to carry out their work without undue pressure or interference.