Bosnia and Herzegovina: Journalist Nikola Morača asked to reveal his sources
Bosnian journalist Nikola Morača had his phone confiscated after he refused to reveal his sources during an interrogation by the Banja Luka Police Station, on 24 February 2023. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joined its affiliate the Bosnia-Herzegovina Journalists’ Association (BHN) in condemning this appalling attack on the protection of sources.
Nikola Morača, who works for the newspaper EuroBlic and the portal SrpskaInfo, had written about the rape of an eighteen years old in the city of Banja Luka. The police had been looking for Morača and interrogated him after he arrived accompanied by his lawyer at the station.
In the presence of a prosecutor, police officers on duty asked him to disclose his source. The journalist had been in communication with someone about the suspect via text messages. The police threatened Morača, telling him he would become a witness in the case under criminal offence 337 if he did not give them the information they wanted, and they asked to see his phone. After refusing several times, Morača eventually handed in his phone as the police would not let him go with it. The journalist was told he is now officially considered a witness on the grounds that he breached “the confidentiality of the proceedings”.
Morača reported that he heard police officers say “the time has come to finally put an end to you”. He is however unsure whether the officers were talking about him directly or the journalist community as a whole.
“This is a egregious example of institutional pressure on a journalist, as well as an impermissible and disproportionate threat to his right to freedom of expression and informing the public about the case of the rape of an eighteen-year-old girl,” said Borka Rudic, General Secretary of the BHN.
A spontaneous gathering took place the next day, on 25 February 2023, in support of Nikola Morača.
#BosniaHerzegovina: Full solidarity with journalist Nikola Morača. The police and the Banja Luka prosecutor had no right to confiscate his mobile phone and investigate his sources. We demand an explanation from the government!#JournalismIsNotACrime https://t.co/cqqBC7wd74
— EFJ (@EFJEUROPE) February 25, 2023
This statement by EFJ is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.