Attack on Olivera Lakić Sign Investigative Journalists are Unsafe in Montenegro
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK—A brutal attack on Olivera Lakić is yet another sign that investigative journalists are not safe in Montenegro and that the government must take immediate action to ensure their protection, said PEN America in a statement today.
On Tuesday, May 8, 2018 Olivera Lakić, a journalist for the Montenegrin newspaper Vijesti, was reportedly wounded in the right leg outside her home in the capital, Podgorica, by a gunman. The attack is suspected to be linked to her investigative reporting about alleged murky business dealings involving top state officials and their families. Lakić was hospitalized but is reportedly expected to recover.
The shooting is one in a series of attacks on investigative journalists in Montenegro. Lakić was previously attacked six years ago after she wrote a series of articles about alleged opaque dealings over a tobacco factory, and on April 1, a bomb exploded near the house of Lakić’s Vijesti colleague, Saed Sadikovic, in the town of Bijelo Polje. The attack on Lakić also comes on the heels of the assassinations of two investigative journalists in Europe in recent months: Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017, and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia in February this year.
“Violent assaults against journalists like this one are shocking and should be properly investigated,” said Polina Kovaleva, PEN America’s Eurasia Project Director. “Journalistic work is essential for democracy, and authorities in Montenegro should provide all the necessary conditions for journalists to work freely and live without fear. In the context of other attacks on journalists occurring in Montenegro and across Europe, authorities must take this threat to press freedom seriously and hold the perpetrators to account.”
Following the attack on Lakić, hundreds of people gathered in front of government buildings in Podgorica in protest, with many of them accusing the government of not doing enough to protect reporters in the country. The EU has also warned Montenegro that this case will impact their bid for membership, and has pushed for a thorough investigation.
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org
Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Coordinator: [email protected]