Violence against journalists 'in the heart of Europe'
Violence against journalists 'in the heart of Europe'

The attack on Dutch journalist Peter R. de Vries shocked Europe. Despite the EU’s seemingly good reputation with regard to press freedom, journalists sometimes become targets.

Amsterdam in shock

Tuesday evening in the middle of the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. Well-known crime reporter Peter R. de Vries leaves a television studio and is shot by unknown assailants. Various indications point to an organized crime syndicate being behind the attack. Two men were taken into custody several hours after the shooting.

One of the country’s best-known crime reporters

De Vries has reported on organized crime in his country for many years. Prior to the shooting, he was working as a personal adviser to a crown witness, who is scheduled to testify against a well-known crime boss. The brother of the crown witness and his lawyer were both murdered several years ago. De Vries is fighting for his life in an Amsterdam hospital.

Hope and fear

“Such a thing cannot happen in the middle of Europe!” This was the reaction that many Dutch people had following Tuesday’s shooting. A number of people have since visited the crime scene, leaving flowers and get-well wishes. Sadly, de Vries is not the first journalist to fall victim of a murder plot in the European Union.

Birthplace of democracy

Greek journalist Giorgos Karaivaz was murdered in southern Athens on April 9. Two masked men riding a motorcycle shot the veteran crime reporter 10 times. An experienced reporter, Karaivaz covered a number of corruption cases involving Greek bureaucrats and organized crime syndicates.

Killed by a car bomb

Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia covered corruption in Malta’s political and business sphere. The 53-year-old was killed after a car bomb was detonated inside her vehicle on October 16, 2017. A man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after confessing to the crime. The accused mastermind, a well-known businessman, is currently on trial for the murder.

Killed in their own home

Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead along with his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova, by hired assassins on February 21, 2018. The 28-year-old focused his reporting on organized crime syndicates, tax evasion and corruption among Slovak oligarchs and politicians. Their murders shocked Europe and led to the resignation of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico.

‘Free media!’

In 2015, Polish journalist Lukasz Masiak was beaten to death in a bowling club. Masiak had been covering corruption, illegal drug activity and arbitrary arrests. Poland’s government remains in focus because of various human rights violations. Poles continue to protest the government’s latest measures to undermine a free press.

I am Charlie

In January 2015, 12 people were killed in an attack on the offices of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. Hundreds of thousands of people protested globally for freedom of speech and the press using the hashtag “Je suis Charlie.” In November of that year, music journalist Guillaume Barreau-Decherf was murdered when terrorists attacked Paris’ famous Bataclan music venue.

Turkish journalist attacked in Berlin

Berlin-based Turkish journalist Erk Acarer, a harsh critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was attacked in his apartment by three men on July 7. Writing in Turkish on Twitter, Acarer said: “I was attacked with knives and fists inside my home in Berlin.” The three suspects threatened to come back if he did not stop reporting.

Reporters with borders?

It is not always the case that journalists fear for their lives. Increasingly, though, they are being prevented from doing their job — be it by angry protesters, police or security forces. In this picture, French riot police confront a member of the press during a demonstration against the country’s new security bill.

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