|Name and Surname||BIRN Albania|
|Gender||Group BIRN Albania|
|City / Location||Tirana|
|Type of incident||Threats against media outlets and organizations|
|By whom||By public persons|
|Name of the perpetrator||Sali Berisha|
|Type of media||online|
|Media name||BIRN Albania|
|Was journalist`s association informed||Yes|
Former Prime Minister Berisha published a report on 17th July presenting his arguments regarding the facts that supported the Home Office’s decision to declare him persona non grata. In July 2022, Sali Berisha was designated non-grata by the United Kingdom. The grounds laid down by the UK include having a clear connection to organized crime and crime groups who pose a risk to public safety in the UK and Albania and that he is willing to use them to advance his political ambitions.
Berisha stated that the sources were threefold: George Soros, his political opponents, and media outlets financed by Soros naming explicitly BIRN Albania (reporter. al) and BalkanInsight. He accused these outlets of conspiring with the government to destroy the opposition in Albania under the financing of George Soros.
The articles Berisha refers to have been published over several years. Interestingly, Berisha has never previously disputed these articles or pursued any defamation lawsuits, nor has he challenged their veracity.
Sali Berisha’s attack on BIRN Albania, the country’s most reputable, independent, and investigative media outlet, is problematic on multiple levels:
- Berisha’s attack on BIRN Albania (reporter.al and BalkanInsight) undermines the vital principle of press freedom. Independent media like BIRN Albania serve as a check and balance on governmental power, holding it accountable and shining a light on corruption or misdeeds. By attempting to discredit BIRN, Berisha undermines this critical democratic institution, possibly creating a chilling effect on journalism in the country.
- The accusations against BIRN Albania could fuel further practices of disinformation and distortion of the truth. In alleging conspiracy and collusion, without clear evidence, Berisha is trying to sway public opinion away from facts reported by BIRN Albania. This could lead to a broader mistrust of media outlets particularly those who are independent and critical of powerful interests, making it easier for falsehoods to spread and thrive.
- Berisha’s public accusations might also put the safety of journalists at risk. His base of fanatic support might feel incited to discredit and attack BIRN and its journalists.
Berisha’s attack on BIRN Albania is troubling not just for the media outlet itself, but for the Albanian society and its democratic health. It is essential for the public and the international community to uphold the principles of a free press and protect media outlets like BIRN Albania that strive to provide objective, investigative reporting.
More context is available here