Prominent Bulgarian investigative journalist threatened with assassination

A Western special service has warned Bulgarian investigative journalist Atanas Chobanov of the imminent threat of an assassination attempt, on Bulgarian territory. [Shutterstock / wk1003mike]

A Western special service has warned Bulgarian investigative journalist Atanas Chobanov of the imminent threat of an assassination attempt, on Bulgarian territory.

The warning was received after the last publication on Chobanov’s investigative website BIRD.bg.

“On Friday, 7th of January, at 12:05 I received a call from a foreign government official that I was under immediate threat. I was told that they were obliged by law to inform me. The threat is local to Bulgaria, but I am currently abroad. I immediately informed the Bulgarian services, but they had no information. So far, I have no official confirmation that anything is being done about this case. My latest work is related to (Delyan) Peevski and lobbying agreements of his “proxy” relations with Tony Podesta. It is clear to me that the order comes from the first row of chairs in the National Assembly. The question is what the new government is doing to get us out of the infamous 111th place in terms of media freedom (at the “Reporters without borders ranking),” Chobanov told EURACTIV Bulgaria.

The OCCRP, an international journalistic project investigating organised crime and corruption, said on Twitter that it also had serious and reliable information about a threat against Chobanov.

The latest investigative report by BIRD.bg was entitled “Lobbyist Tony Podesta serves businesses related to Peevski”.

The Balkan Free Media Initiative (BFMI) has expressed significant concern over the threats against Chobanov, while the Association of European Journalists Bulgaria has also called on the authorities to take all necessary measures to protect the journalist.

“We urge every effort to be made to identify and neutralise the potential source of the threat. Due to the nature of his work, exposing corruption and abuse. Investigative journalists are in a vulnerable position, and institutions are responsible for protecting them from any encroachment. In the absence of a reaction from the state, journalists are sometimes the only inconvenient people who hinder the implementation of criminal schemes or high-level corruption,” the Association said in a statement.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)

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