The position of G4Media.ro on Liviu Dragnea’s threats
On Sunday night, live on a TV channel, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and House speaker Liviu Dragnea, described by the Associated Press as „the most powerful politician in Romania”, called for an investigation against journalist Dan Tapalaga after G4Media.ro published on April 18, under the signature of another journalist, Cristian Pantazi, an article revealing the intention of the Government to adopt e memorandum to move the Romanian Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
It is the first time since an episode involving ex-PM Adrian Nastase and media man Mugur Ciuvica, in January 2002, that a top official threatens a journalist publicly and notifies the institutions of the state, again publicly, urging them to launch an inquiry. We believe Mr. Liviu Dragnea’s threats are a serious attack on the freedom of the press and an attempt to intimidate independent journalists. Mr. Dragnea asked about the sources of G4Media.ro, thus attacking one of the basic rules of journalism – the full confidentiality of sources of information. G4Media.ro excludes any discussion on this topic and condemns any politician who shows disrespect towards the rules of journalism.
We recall that Mr. Dragnea had launched another attack against journalist Dan Tapalaga in September 2017, during a contol of fiscal authority ANAF at his previous media organisation, HotNews.ro. At the time, when the journalist worked as a coordinating editor of HotNews.ro. Dragnea said: „Who, the one who says he keeps his teeth sunk into our neck? First of all, let him say all the funding sources, his own and his website’s”.
The ANAF check at HotNews.ro was mentioned in the US Department of State report on human rights in Romania – 2017: „In July tax inspectors from the Finance Ministry began investigating the news group Rise Project and news website Hotnews. The investigations followed a series of articles by the two outlets on controversial domestic and international transactions allegedly coordinated by Chamber of Deputies president and Social Democratic Party leader Liviu Dragnea. Several NGOs and independent media groups asserted the tax inspection was aimed at intimidating the news organizations.”
Considering the precedent, Mr. Liviu Dragnea’s threats are even more worrisome. Since they took power, the PSD has come to prominence through legislative initiatives aimed at smothering institutions that are key in a democracy and critical voices within the society. See the legislative initiative on the funding of NGOs, the defamation law announced by the PSD leader himself, the Justice laws and the changes to the Penal and Penal Procedure codes.
We warn about the major risk that abusive handling of power become a rule in Romania today, as it already happens in countries with a deficit of democracy such as Hungary, Turkey or Russia. This instigation to stifle freedom of expression for independent journalists is all the more condemnable as the acts of political aggression and Mafia-style violence against free media have multiplied within the EU.
G4Media.ro assures its readers that it will stick to public interest closely and exclusively. In this case, moving the Romanian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem represents both an issue of public interest and a foreign policy decision with significant, long-term implications. By revealing the intention of the Government to secretly adopt a memorandum on the issue, G4Media.ro dealt with a subject of a public interest legitimately.
Therefore, G4Media.ro considers that it is not journalists who revealed the existence of this secretly planned memorandum who must be investigated, but investigations must go on the circumstances of classifying a document the adoption of which had Romania breach the EU unity on the statute of Jerusalem. By adopting the memorandum, Romania changed the national foreign policy towards Israel and Palestine, by questioning compliance with international law.
We thank journalists who condemned PSD leader Liviu Dragnea’s sideslip. We thank readers for support and solidarity with G4Media.ro.
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