Police Raid on Klix.ba

Police from Republika Srpska aided by local police from Sarajevo raided the offices of Bosnian news site Klix.ba in an effort to discover the source of an incriminating audiotape of Zeljka Cvijanovic, ( of Milorad Dodik´s party SNSD) the prime minister of Republika Srpska and close associate of Milorad Dodik. In mid November Klix.ba published an audiotape where allegedly Cvijanovic and another woman are talking about buying off opponents in Republika Srpska.

At the beginning of the recording you can hear Cvijanović telling another woman not to worry, and the other women saying; “it´s probably those two hicks” to which Cvijanović replies; “yes from Šukalo´s party, (Adam Šukalo, leader of Stranka Napredna Srpska, which translates to; The Srpska Party of Progressives)  but we have bought two others, and we´ll see if they are quality purchases, if the first two bail on us we have two others”

At one point in the recording the other woman who is talking to Cvijanović is asking her if “they could force the issue of…” and telling her that “they have already lobbied Miloš Kovačević” (Miloš Kovačević is well known linguist) to start talking about Bosniak/Bosnian language, to which Cvijanović says; “of course, let him run with it. Who´s stopping him… It´s up to the academic community to talk about that and to explain, and to make TV-shows about that..”

Audio-recording published by Klix.ba

Serb nationalists in Republika Sprska have for a long time denied the existence of a Bosnian language instead claiming that there are three separate languages in Bosnia: Serbian, Croatian and “the language that Bosniaks speak” or a “Bosniak laungage.” There is only one official laungage in RS, and that is Serbian with two mandatory alphabets, Cyrillic and Latin. While in the other part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Federation there are three official languages; Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.

According to Klix.ba police units from RS and local Sarajevo police entered their newsroom sometime after eight in the morning, told them to get up out of their chairs and directed them to another room. The police were led by one Siniša Kostrešević and they had court order issiued by judge Igor Todorović from Sarajevo Cantonal Court. According to Klix; from the moment the police entered the newsroom, Klix staffers were not permitted to publish any kind of news reports and that only after a couple of hours were they permitted to leave the premises with the exception of one journalist, Edita Gorinjac, owners Dario and Mario Šimić and chief editor Jasmin Hadžiahmetović. Klix employees were not allowed to use the telephones or to have contact with anyone outside the newsroom. Only after a couple of hours were the journalists who at the time were not in the newroom allowed to publish any kind of news reports but were warned not to publish anything about the raid which apparently lasted more the 7 hours. The police took out the hard-drives out of all computers in the Klix newsroom along with USB-sticks, cellphones CDs, and laptops along with other documentation the police thought they needed.

According to Slobodna Bosna; Siniša Kostrešević, the man who led the raid is head of the Republika Srpska MUP´s (Ministry of the Interior) Organzied Crime and Anti Corruption Unit and was once head of the police in small town Laktaši near Banja Luka. Laktaši is also Milorad Dodik´s birthplace and hometown. Apperently Kostrešević rose to prominence togheter with the rise of Milorad Dodik´s SNSD to power in RS.

Bosnian portal Žurnal reported back in November of 2011 that the two main opposition leaders in RS, Mladen Ivanić (PDP) and Dragan Čavić (DP) said that they had credible information that the authorities in RS were planning to “deal with the opposition” in a unlawful matter, mainly the leaders of the opposition. According to Ivanić the intention of the authorities in RS was to intimidate the leadership of these two parties and their closest associates. Dragan Čavić said that he had credible information that the leading structures in RS had issued a directive to the police in which they are obliged to “at all cost compromise him and Ivanić and the people around them” Čavić went on to say that several sources had confirmed that police in RS was conducting illegal wiretapping of Ivanić and Čavić, apparently Čavić raised the issue of illegal wiretapping in the People´s Assembly of RS. Čavić´s claims were denied by Stanislav Čađo, minister of the police. According to Čavić there was nothing else Čađo could do but deny the claims, nevertheless Čavić said that he had credible information about the main players involved and that he had obtained that information from members of RS police who were not ready to be a part of such illegal activities.

Čavić also said that the police in RS had at that time acquired all new wiretapping equipment and that those officers in charge of such things were replaced by people loyal to SNSD (Milorad Dodik´s party) and that the police in Republika Srpska had been “cleansed” of undesirable elements and that the police in RS was now just the extended arm of SNSD.

According to Žurnal: MUP RS ( Ministry of the Interior) had spent 1,36 million KM or 513 000 Euros on all new wiretapping and surveillance equipment which they purchased from a Belgrade-based firm “Vizus” and that part of the money came from Milorad Dodik´s personal account. Žurnal´s source within MUP RS said that there was no reason for the purchase of new equipment since only two years earlier they had bought all new equipment at the cost of 2.5 million KM and which could only be operated by five people.

The source also said that the new equipment was placed into the old MUP building, known as: ”the blue building” and that the old equipment was removed along with the five MUP employees that handled the equipment. They were replaced by five new specially selected officers who had gone through a special training process at the Belgrade-based Vizus firm. They were all handpicked by Milorad Dodik´s head of security Miloš Čubrilović “Čubri” According to the source the new equipment is capable of monitoring both cell phones as well as land lines.

Žurnal´s source within MUP RS also had confirmed to that; SNSD had in the past months carried out a “cleansing” of MUP RS appointing people loyal to SNSD. According to the source the man in charge of the “cleansing” was a one; Siniša Kostrešević who is the man that decides who stays and who goes.

Going back to the raid on Klix.ba; once the police from Republika Srpska was finished with their raid they left the building with the material that they had confiscated, they were followed by Klix photographers and other journalists to their cars. At one point one the RS cops struck a Klix photographer with his elbow. The whole incident can be seen in the video clip below:

Veteran journalist Goran Milić who now works for Al Jazeera Balkans pointed out that cooperation between the two BiH entities; the Federation & RS is apparently possible and only wished that that cooperation would work when it comes to more important things and not when it comes to raiding offices of a news-site like the case with Klix.ba since they have done nothing wrong. Milić also pointed to the case of the Al Jazeera journalists imprisoned in Cairo as well as the fact that journalists in Bosnia and Herzegovina have in the past experienced numerous attempts by authorities to disclose their sources.

A number of people on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter have raised the question of why did a judge in Sarajevo agree to issue a court order for raid on a Federation news-site? Especially since they have done nothing wrong. Many see that as evidence that authorities in BiH have no problem with cooperation when it comes silencing the media. It should be added that Zeljka Cvijanović and SNSD have denied the authenticity of the recording published by Klix.ba yet they still apperently felt compelled to raid the offices of Klix.ba to find out who the source was.

Others have brought up the tragic death of Snježana Krajišnik who died two days ago after falling into a deep ravine on Romanija which is in RS yet very close to Sarajevo. People have pointed out that Krajišnik could have been saved if the local authorities in Republika Srpska had requested help from neighboring Sarajevo instead of waiting on a helicopter to arrive all the way from Banja Luka on the other side of the country. Snježana Krajišnik´s life was not important enough to ask for assistance from Sarajevo while when it comes to raiding the offices of a news-site police in Republika Srpska have no problem asking for assistance.

Another veteran journalist and founder of weekly Dani, Senad Pećanin pointed to the fact that Milorad Dodik´s influence now apparently extends beyond Republika Srpska  and that Klix.ba is now going thru what BN TV in RS has been going thru for months and years now.

According to Pećanin this is a shocking and strictly legally speaking unbelievable decision by the Cantonal Court in Sarajevo. He went on to say:  “It´s absolutely unbelievable that this kind of brutal attack is allowed on the media in Bosnia and on the freedom of information, given that those freedoms are protected by the constitution and the European convention on basic rights and freedoms, which is a foundation of the Bosnian Constitution. This kind of behavior deserves the reaction and condemnation by the Bosnian public and all forms of media, journalist´s organizations and all those who care about justice and law enforcement in BiH. This kind of brutal attack without any kind of legal basis wasn´t even possible during the 80s, this kind of thing is only possible in Putin´s Russia, Erdogan´s Turkey and in Milorad Dodik´s Republika Srpska.”

He added that there is no doubt that the information that Klix.ba published was proof of a scandalous criminal behavior and disregard for the political will of the people in RS by Zeljka Cvijanović. Instead of prosecuting those that manipulate the electoral process, they hand out reprisals to the media that reports on it. According to Pećanin; “this is look of a totalitarian system and un-democratic society and there is no other explanation for it.”

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović urged authorities in BiH to “do their utmost to stop persecuting journalists and to respect their right to protect their sources” and said that the raid represented a grave and disproportionate intrusion into the journalists right to report about public interest issues. Mijatović pointed to several instances where police in both parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina have tried to silence journalists and expressed concern for the way media and journalists are treated in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Some of the reactions on Twitter to today´s raid on Klix.ba

One of the journalists detained today; Edita Gorinjac tweeted a picture of a desk after the police raid, saying this is a part of something that used to be a computer.

“Journalism is not a crime” written in Bosnian.

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