Albania Mogul Says Govt Targeting His Media Over Editorial Line

A pro-opposition media group in Albania on Friday accused the Socialist government of Prime Minister Edi Rama of harassing its owner businesses to force it to change its editorial line - an accusation the government has rejected.

The claim came after a government agency for the protection of territory demolished two pools of a hotel in Durres on Friday, claiming they were illegally built on state-owned land.

The hotel resort is owned by Irfan Hysenbelliu, a media owner who has had several spats with government officials during the last few months.

Following the demolition, his media linked the demolition to its critical editorial line, to which the government responded that the company was "playing the role of victim of media freedom" to cover violations of the laws by its owner.

Fabiola Hysenbelliu, deputy chairman of the group of companies owned by Irfan Hysenbelliu, claimed Prime Minister Edi Rama ordered the demolition and that the constructions were properly built, with legal permits.

"This was planned by Edi Rama," she said. "He has attempted to negotiate the editorial [line] of News 24 [TV] and Panorama. We are here to tell him: 'We will not change.' What you are doing will not force us into submission."

However, the Ministry of Interior claimed the pool action was merely part of wider measures being taken against illegal construction.

"Today's intervention, which was to recover some 4,000 sqm of sand and sea covered in concrete, in front of a resort where there are other illegal constructions for profit maximizing, has been treated by the media of Irfan Hysenbelliu as an attack on their editorial line," the ministry noted in a statement on its Facebook page.

"This is not the first time News 24,...

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