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Journalists fire back at officials’ ‘intimidation’

Media crews and journalists in action

STATE officials who feel offended or slandered by the media may resort to justice, instead of attempting pre-emptive censorship, Union of Cyprus Journalists Antonis Makridis said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Makridis said that such incidents against journalists are fast becoming a daily occurrence, despite repeated condemnation of the practice by the union’s board.

“Various prominent individuals, who hold office and top jobs, state or other, appear intolerant of criticism by journalists,” Makridis wrote.

“In trying to gag journalists, they resort to lawyers and threaten lawsuits in case the journalists continue to write about them, their actions or omissions. The obvious goal is pre-emptive censorship and intimidation of journalists.”

If these people believe they are being offended or slandered, they have every right to resort to Justice, but not to threats in letters sent by lawyers and law firms, the journalists’ leader said.

“The most recent example of such behavior comes from police chief Zacharias Chrysostomou, who, through his lawyer, threatened to sue fellow journalist Dina Kleanthous if she did not remove from her story in the online news portal ‘Reporter’ critical references to the police force and him personally,” Makridis said.

“The criticism relates to the case of the recent multiple murders in Ayia Napa.”

The union said it hopes this was the last time it has had to comment on incidents of intimidation and pre-emptive censorship, which aim at silencing journalists.

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