Journalists, judges, public prosecutors and political opponents of the government are just some of the categories of citizens that are monitored, online and offline, by the state intelligence structures.
The current legislation in Serbia states that unauthorized interference in someone else’s electronic communications is an offence punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment.
The current Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin, who found out about the internal communication between the editor-in-chief of the Nedeljnik weekly, Veljko Lalić, and the former Minister of Defence, Dragan Šutanovac, is not the only state official who has access to internal correspondence between journalists.
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To remind, in mid-June last year, the deputy mayor of Belgrade Goran Vesić said, at a press conference, that the N1 TV station was campaigning against him, citing “as proof” an internal email confirming it, which he later published later his Facebook profile.
However, that e-mail constituted regular communication between an editor and a journalist. The team of prosecutors hired by N1 then contacted the prosecutor’s office for high-tech crime, but nothing happened, nor was Vesić held responsible.
At the time, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić had stated that the deputy mayor should have been held accountable if he had illegally obtained internal e-mails of a media outlet, but again nothing was done.
Attorney-at-law Vladimir Gajić says that the government’s intelligence services are illegally monitoring hundreds of citizens, political opponents, journalists, judges, prosecutors and even members of the ruling party.
“There is no freedom, let alone independence in this country. None of these cases should have been swept under the rug. The holders of judicial functions in Serbia must be replaced because they have allowed the executive power to figuratively step over them. They are one of the main, if not the main reason why Serbia is suffering under dictatorship today and is fighting for the implementation of basic human rights,” Gajić points out.
Listening to and intercepting communications in the media is nothing new, says CINS director, Branko Čečen. He adds that CINS’ e-emails were hacked for the first time by an enterprising young man who did the same with quite a few other organizations. But he stopped at that and did not do anything further with the e-mails. CINS’ electronic system was hacked twice since then but with no judicial consequences.
“Even crazier thing is that the Informer weekly got access to the bank accounts of CINS, KRIK and BIRN from someone and published them. Our bank had confirmed that it did not pass any information regarding our bank account to anyone. Of course, Informer was not penalized for this. Respect for the law and basic human decency cannot be attributed to this government, which circumvents both the Constitution and the rule of law,” Čečen concluded.
This post is also available in: Italiano