4 February 2003


Authorities launch harassment campaign against independent press group

Incident details


(WAN/IFEX) - In a 3 February 2003 letter to Lithuanian President Valdus Adamkus and President-Elect Rolandas Paksas, WAN and the World Editors Forum (WEF) expressed their serious concern about an apparent campaign of harassment against the independent daily newspaper "Respublika" by state authorities.

According to the organisations' information, tax authorities have undertaken extensive inspections of all "Respublika"-related companies over a period of several months leading up to the recent presidential elections.

More seriously, it is WAN's and the WEF's understanding that evidence is emerging that the state security services have been instructed to "deal with" the Respublika group and, in particular, its owner, Vitas Tomkus.

Indeed, the organisations have learned that on 3 February, the TV3 station was due to show video tape of a security agent, Valerij Saveljev, filmed secretly trying to persuade television journalist Virginijus Gaiveris to reveal any "compromising information" he might have on Tomkus or the Respublika group in order to "put the screw" on them.

All these facts appear to suggest that a clear and directed campaign of intimidation is being undertaken against this independent press group and its owner.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president and president-elect:

- noting that such practices are totally unacceptable in a democracy and must cease immediately

- calling on them both to take such measures as are necessary to put a complete stop to these activities, which may tarnish the name of Lithuania in the international community

Appeals To

Mr Valdus Adamkus
Presidential Palace
S. Daukanto sq. 3
Vilnius, Lithuania
Fax: +3705 266 4151

Mr Rolandas Paksas
Presidential Palace
S. Daukanto sq. 3
Vilnius, Lithuania
Fax: +3705 266 4161

Please copy appeals to WAN.


World Association of Newspapers
7 Rue Geoffroy St. Hilaire
75005 Paris
contact_us (@) wan.asso.fr
Fax:+33 14 742 4948
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