Kosovo journalist beaten for reports on corruption; watchdog condemns attack

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An international watchdog has condemned the beating of a Kosovo journalist known for his reports on corruption, said a report.

Parim Olluri, whose news website ‘Insajderi’ has become one of the leading online media outlets reporting claims of corruption among Kosovo's top officials, was beaten by unknown assailants late Wednesday as he was going home with his fiancée.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, whose Kosovo mission monitors peace and democracy in the country, called the attack "an attack against freedom of media,” pointing out that "Journalists should be free to state a different opinion without fear of violence or physical injury."

The attack came days after Olluri wrote an editorial accusing some former commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army, seen as heroes by many for their role in fighting Serb forces during the 1998-99 war, of corruption.

According to the report, Hashim Thaci, Kosovo's president, wrote on his Facebook page: "Journalists should not be discouraged by such criminal acts. On the contrary."

Kosovo’s journalists’ association called on authorities to find the attackers.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nearly a decade after NATO mounted airstrikes to drive out Serb forces and halt the killing and ethnic cleansing of Albanians in a two-year Serb counterinsurgency.

Moreover, Human rights organization Freedom House said in its 2017 report that the media in Kosovo were "partly free," but that threats against journalists have increased in recent years.

Last year a hand grenade was thrown at the home of the head of Kosovo's state broadcaster RTK days after another explosive device was thrown into the broadcaster's courtyard.

Journalists in Kosovo have faced threats for their reporting before. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in August 2016, the group Rugovasit took responsibility for detonating an explosive device in the back yard of Mentor Shala, the head of Kosovo's public broadcaster, and threatened further attacks if he did not resign. The group said it opposed the broadcaster's coverage of a border demarcation deal with Montenegro.