October 8, 2016

KOSOVO Priština appeal court takes sides against investigative website

Journalst Vehbi Kajtazi /

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by a Priština appeal court’s decision to

overturn a lower court’s rejection of a complaint against the investigative news

website Insajderi and, worse still, by the fact that the appeal court took it upon itself

to give the plaintiff advice.

The ruling has dealt a severe blow to investigative journalism in Kosovo.

The complaint was brought by Adem Grabovci, the former parliamentary leader of

the ruling Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), after Insajderi published a story

containing excerpts of recorded conversations revealing the central role he had

played in alleged corruption cases.

The lower court will now have to hear Grabovci’s lawsuit accusing the Priština-

based website of “violating his privacy” and “his constitutional rights.” Remarkably,

the appeal court seemed to side with Grabovci in its published decision, advising

him how to consolidate his arguments and improve his lawsuit’s chances.

“The fact that the appeal court’s judges supported a plaintiff casts doubt on its

credibility and independence,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF’s Europe-

Balkans desk.

“It is not just Insajderi’s prospects in this lawsuit that are at stake. Investigative

journalism itself is under attack. Politicians cannot use the right to privacy in same

that ordinary citizens can. A journalist or media outlet cannot be sued for revealing

information that is in the public interest.”

Grabovci filed the suit after being forced to resign, but the lower court rejected his

violation of privacy arguments on the grounds that he is a public figure and the

revelations were in the public interest. Its decision complied with European Court of

Human Rights jurisprudence, which does not recognize the right to privacy in

disclosures involving public affairs.

Kosovo is ranked 90th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom