Importance of press freedom second to none, US ambassador Kohorst says

Importance of press freedom second to none, US ambassador Kohorst says

Importance of press freedom second to none, US ambassador Kohorst says Izvor: N1

"We shouldn't try and keep journalists from telling the truth, but they need to be responsible for what they do," US Ambassador to Croatia, Robert Kohorst, told reporters on Thursday.

Kohorst, who was attending a conference on the Humphrey Fellowship exchange program in Zagreb, was asked to comment on the recent protest of journalists who had marched through city centre last weekend to raise awareness of more than 1,100 of lawsuits lodged against reporters and media outlets in Croatia's courts.

"The United States is very much in favour of freedom of speech, and hopefully journalists have freedom to write articles that are both true and are informative... I don't know about the specific details that much, but I know the United States thinks there's nothing more important than freedom of the press," Kohorst said.

The country's main association of journalists says that the recent wave of civil lawsuits against the media, with courts often awarding damages to plaintiffs regardless whether the actual reports are truthful, practically amounts to hounding and intimidation of reporters.

In a highly publicised case earlier this week, an investigative reporter working for a popular news website was ID'd by uniformed police at her workplace, upon request from a lawyer representing a local politician who is preparing a lawsuit against her.

The unprecedented practice of police coming into a newsroom to act on behalf of a private lawsuit was widely seen as an attempt at intimidation and was condemned by other media outlets, opposition politicians, journalists' association, as well as the local police union.

"It seems to me that there is a lot of press freedom, I see a lot of articles written... I think lawsuit that are not appropriate shouldn't be done, and we shouldn't try and keep journalists from telling the truth, but they do need to be responsible for what they say. Hopefully, there can be a balance between freedom of expression and telling the truth," Kohorst added.

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