A media freedom watchdog expressed concern Friday about harassment and violence against Armenia's media, saying there was an atmosphere of intimidation and fear.
Miklos Haraszti, media freedom representative at the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also said he was worried that the country's Gala TV may stop broadcasting as a result of pressure by authorities and called on officials to demonstrate goodwill for a compromise settlement.
"The recent cases of harassment and violence against independent and opposition media have contributed to an atmosphere of intimidation and fear in the journalistic community in Armenia," Haraszti said in a letter to Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian.
Gala TV is facing two lawsuits that could result in the company being forced to pay about 58,000 euros (US$83,450) into the state budget and the loss of its right to use its broadcasting tower, according to a statement issued by Haraszti's office. "I trust that the local authorities will not make arbitrary decisions and demonstrate goodwill for a compromise settlement so that Gala TV can continue broadcasting," Haraszti said in the letter to Oskanian.
In reference to a December 13 explosion at the entrance of Chorrord Ishkhanutyun, a Yerevan-based opposition newspaper, Haraszti said: "I urge Armenia's law enforcement bodies to punish the perpetrators not just for the sake of justice but also to give support to freedom of expression in the country."
(Photolur photo: Miklos Haraszti.)