Journalists strangled, shot, blown up
A vigil for murdered Bulgarian reporter Viktoria Marinova
A Bulgarian TV journalist was brutally raped, beaten, and strangled to death while out jogging last week, said Bulgaria’s FrogNews.bg in an editorial, and authorities are trying to pretend it had nothing to do with her reporting. Viktoria Marinova, 30, an anchor of the news show Detector and the ex-wife of TV magnate Svilen Maximov, was investigating the alleged embezzlement of European Union funds by Bulgarian firms at the time of her murder. But Interior Minister Mladen Marinov insisted that her killing must be a random sex crime, noting that Marinova, a former beauty queen, ran every day on the same route, and that the killer apparently lay in wait for her. A 21-year-old Bulgarian man with a criminal record, Severin Krasimirov, was arrested this week for the murder; police said the crime was not linked to Marinova’s work. But the louder officials make these claims, the more we will suspect that this courageous journalist was killed “to muzzle her investigations.”
Bulgaria is a dangerous place to be a reporter, said Jennifer Rankin in The Guardian (U.K.). The press freedom advocate Reporters Without Borders says both “corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs” are widespread there, and that physical attacks and death threats against journalists by crime groups “are especially common.” If Marinova was killed because of her work, she’s part of a gruesome trend, said Francesco Battistini in Corriere della Sera (Italy). Malta’s most famous investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was blown up last year in a targeted car bombing. In February, Slovak reporter Jan Kuciak was shot to death in his home, along with his fiancée, while working on a story about the links between the Calabrian mob, the ’Ndrangheta, and local businesses. And now Marinova. Surely it is not “pure chance” that all three had been investigating corruption involving the misuse of EU funds?
It’s bad enough when suspected mob hitmen go around murdering journalists, said Yahya Bostan in the Daily Sabah (Turkey). When a national government does it, we’re in a new realm of terror. Jamal Khashoggi, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent journalists, fled his country last year during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s crackdown on dissent. He continued to criticize brutality in his native land for publications such as The Washington Post, and last week went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to file paperwork for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman. Khashoggi, 59, never came out. Turkish officials say they have proof he was murdered in the consulate, and his body dismembered and removed. The Saudis insist Khashoggi left the building on his own, yet they refuse to release video footage from the exits. If Saudi Arabia really had a journalist murdered at a diplomatic mission in a foreign country, “it deserves to be designated a rogue state.” Being a reporter has suddenly become a far more perilous profession. ■