A letter to EANA regarding the developments around the Slovenian Press Agency.
We, too, would prefer that the events that occurred in the Slovenian Press Agency had never happened. Unfortunately, they did happen, and they should serve as a reminder and warning to all so that something similar never happens again.
When Veselinovič officially took over as the director in 2009, one of his first moves involved coming into conflict with the then editor-in-chief Borut Meško. The conflict, which ended utterly tragically, is considered to be one of the gravest and most brutal political attacks on journalism since Slovenia became a democratic state.
Soon after Bojana Veselinovič took over as director and when Borut Meško was still the editor-in-chief, the Slovenian Press Agency published an interview with a renowned Slovenian communist dissident Ljubo Sirc, which apparently was not to director Veselinovič’s liking. "One day after the interview was published, more precisely on 21 April, Veselinovič started bombarding me from the early morning hours with numerous requests for explanations which arrived by e-mail at the following times: 00:06, 00:09, 00:27, 12:32 (two requests that are different in their content!), 12:34, 14:59, 15:12, " is how Borut Meško publicly explained at the time the developments that followed the publication of the interview, which was also reported on by the Association of Journalists and Publicists.
Despite the editorial board being strictly separated from the administrative part of the agency, director Veselinovič directly interfered in the editorial work, and among other things even demanded explanations from editors about whether the credibility of statements from press conferences by individual opposition MPs had been verified before they were published.
You probably agree that such interference by a politically installed director in journalist work is inadmissible.
When the editor-in-chief returned from sick leave after two months, director Veselinovič immediately continued to exert immense pressure on him. Soon after, the editor-in-chief went on another sick leave and, notwithstanding the situation, the director then sent him contract termination papers. A few months after that, the editor-in-chief died due to a severe illness.
We are also convinced that it must also be completely clear to you that this is not only about director Veselinovič dismissing the then editor-in-chief, but sending him contract termination papers on his sickbed. This happened with the strong support of the Social Democrats, the ruling party at the time.
What would other journalists think of such procedures? What was the message, not only for journalists of the Slovenian Press Agency who perhaps dared to think differently to the director, but for all other journalists in the country as well?