Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called the Serbian authorities to investigate allegations that the government spied on and intercepted emails between an opposition politician and the independent weekly Nedeljnik.
Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin issued a sharply-worded statement about a critical opinion piece by former Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac, saying it had been published in Nedeljnik weekly. The opinion piece was not published in the magazine. Sutanovac and the weekly said that the only way that access could have been gained to the piece was by intercepting emails. The Defense Minister’s cabinet issued a second statement claiming it had responded to something Sutanovac is alleged to have said for Kurir daily.
The RSF said in a statement that the findings of the investigation must be made public.
“We are concerned that emails between opposition politicians and independent media outlets are being spied on and intercepted by the government,” RSF editor-in-chief Pauline Adès-Mével said. “We call on the authorities to shed all possible light on this matter.”
This affair, the subject of an outcry in Serbia, recalls one in March 2016, when the newspaper Informer published some of the findings of an investigation into then Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic’s assets that news website Krik had carried out but had not published, RSF said.
It added that episodes like this highlight the Serbian media’s lack of independence and their collusion with certain politicians. Serbia has been falling for years in RSF's World Press Freedom Index and is ranked 90th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Index, it recalled.