Serbia Urged to Come Clean on Journalists’ Surveillance

International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, RSF, has called on the Serbian authorities to investigate how much surveillance goes on in the country - after the Serbian news agency Tanjug on February 16 published a response written by the Defence Minister to a never-published opinion piece by a former defence minister.

The former defence minister and current opposition politician Dragan Sutanovac emailed his article on defence issues to the editor of the weekly Nedeljnik, Veljko Lalic, which decided not to run it.

RSF noted its concern that current minister Alexander Vulin felt able to respond to the unpublished material - and that he had said in his article that he was replying to the article Sutanovic had published in Nedeljnik.

On February 19, RSF's European bureau chief, Pauline Adès-Mével, called on the Serbian authorities to investigate whether opposition politicians were being spied on.

"We are concerned that emails between opposition politicians and independent media outlets are being spied on and intercepted by the government," Adès-Mével said.

"We call on the authorities to shed all possible light on this matter," the press release added.

After the news broke, Vulin apologized to Nedeljnik and said he would ask the relevant bodies to look into the matter. Vulin's staff later said its PR team had mistaken Nedeljnik for Kurir, a Belgrade-based tabloid that recently published an interview with Sutanovac.

But in his response article, Vulin only referred to Sutanovac's comments about Serbia-Russia cooperation, which the unpublished contained piece and was not mentioned in the Kurir interview.

Nedeljnik also said the authorities needed to...

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