News

February 20, 2019

Death threats against Swiss journalist

Arnaud Bédat - © Jean Revillard
The Swiss section of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is extremely concerned to learn of the death threats received by Arnaud Bédat, a Swiss journalist with the weekly L’Illustré, in connection with his reporting on Andriy Pavelko, the president of the Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU). RSF calls on the Swiss authorities to give him full protection.

Bédat’s articles focused on a 4 million euro loan that Pavelko received on behalf of the FFU from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), based in the Swiss town of Nyon. Last November, Bédat received a phone call from a Ukrainian number in which an unidentified person made explicit threats against his life and told him he was not safe in Switzerland.

 

According to Bédat, the phone number is one of those used by Pavelko, who has meanwhile just been elected to UEFA’s executive committee. Bédat thought the threats were disturbing enough to file a complaint with the Swiss Confederation's justice department, which passed it on to the authorities in the Canton of Jura, where Bédat lives.

 

Despite his many years as an investigative reporter, Bédat said such threats “are harder to bear than you would think”. He has formally asked the Swiss authorities to provide him with protection.

 

Such threats, which are extremely rare in Switzerland, are intolerable and pose a serious threat to press freedom. RSF Switzerland calls on the relevant police and judicial authorities to respond with unwavering determination and to provide Bédat with full protection.

 

Violence against journalists worldwide is growing and reached an unprecedented level in 2018, according to RSF’s latest annual round-up. But, until now, the environment for journalists has been very favourable in Switzerland, which is ranked 5th out of 180 countries in RSF's latest World Press Freedom Index.

 

As the continuation of this favourable climate is vital, threats against Swiss journalists must be condemned and prosecuted with the utmost firmness.