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Aktualitet

BIRN: The arrest of the journalist for "computer forgery" raises concerns

BIRN: The arrest of the journalist for "computer forgery" raises

Media organizations reacted with concern after the police announcement of the arrest of a journalist on the charge of computer forgery, after, according to the police, he published fake news in collaboration with two police officers of the Police Supervision Agency.

Media freedom organizations reacted with dismay on Thursday after police announced the arrest of a journalist on charges of publishing fake news that police said were served to him by two Police Oversight Agency officers.

'Safe Journalist' in a statement announced that it was actively following the case, while asking the authorities to be transparent.

"We call on the authorities to ensure transparency and respect for due process in dealing with this matter. While we recognize the need for accountability, we urge not to use measures such as the arrests of journalists and media workers, which must be proportionate and justified", reads the statement of Safe Journalist.

Journalist Ervis Hasanaga was arrested together with the officer of the Police Surveillance Agency, Rexhina Omeri, while Kushtrim Selimi - head of the sector at the AMP, was declared wanted.

Tirana Police Director Tonin Vocaj told BIRN in a phone call that those arrested were accused of computer forgery.

"The arrests in flagrante delicto for these citizens were carried out for the criminal offense of computer forgery committed in collaboration, provided for by Article 186 A of the Criminal Code", said Vocaj.

This criminal offense provides for intervention in computer systems and the alteration of data or their falsification.

However, the State Police did not say which system was tampered with. Also in the press release it was made clear that it was about the publication of news with accusations against senior police officials.

"During the investigations, it was found that these three citizens, in cooperation with each other, changed and deleted computer data in text formats, without the right, to create false data against several holders of different institutions, denigrating their image, with the aim of presenting and using them as authentic, on a website", it is written in the police announcement.

The director of the Tirana Police said that the parties involved had paid money for the publication of news that the police considered false. The prosecutor of the case, Arben Agovi, said that he was examining the materials of the file and that he could not comment on this case yet.

Meanwhile, the Police was unclear about the accusations against the journalist, whether the latter interfered in computer systems or was only guilty of publishing the data served by AMP officers.

Blerjana Bino, from Safe Journalist, told BIRN that if the journalist was arrested simply for not verifying the information, his detention was not justified.

"Although the practice is punishable by the Code of Ethics, it is solved by self-regulation, not by arrest," said Bino.

The police informs that there was a report against the accused and two other persons who have not yet been identified. From the data made public, it turned out that the news that the police describes as false was published on a website that was allegedly financed by Kushtrim Selimi, head of the sector at the AMP.

The page mainly contains articles with accusations against senior leaders of the State Police, while the fact that state officials are hiding behind similar campaigns or publications is identified./ BIRN