“I love journalists, that’s why I may organize a special banquet for them this evening at the Saudi embassy,” Zeman said, alluding to Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi’sdeath at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, which has triggered an international outcry against Saudi Arabia.
Zeman has a long history of bad jokes at the expense of journalists. He greeted journalists with dummy Kalashnikov at a press conference in October 2017. In May 2017, he said journalists should be “liquidated” because “there are too many of them.”
“We condemn the Czech president’s latest appalling provocation towards journalists,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “It is sickening to see him take his cynicism to this level. He must apologize to the journalistic community and stop these
nauseating jibes, the latest of which – delivered on the eve of the Czechoslovak centenary celebrations – has fuelled concerns about new attacks against journalists.”
Long regarded as a model of integration into the European Union, the Czech Republic is nowadays a source of growing concern about the threats to media freedom, concern that has been reinforced by yesterday’s comment.
The Czech Republic is ranked 34th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index, after falling 11 places in a single year.