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Albania: Journalist Launches Counter-Suit Against PM

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By Gjergj Erebara

An Albanian journalist being sued by Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is demanding 8,000 euros in compensation for alleged defamation, launched a counter-suit on Tuesday, saying that the premier should pay him 16,000 euros.

Rama filed his suit against Ylli Rakipi, a journalist and former media owner who currently runs a TV show called ‘The Unexposed Ones’, in January this year.

Rama’s suit was filed over an opinion piece aired in October 2018 in which Rakipi called the prime minister “a clown”, a “madman” and a man with “below average intelligence”. The lawsuit said the opinion piece was inaccurate and caused offence.

“The defendant attacks the plaintiff using offensive and derogatory language,” Rama’s suit said.

Rakipi’s opinion piece criticized Rama’s painting, a well-known artistic sideline of the Albanian premier, which it described as “doodling”.

Rama believes this was an “attack on his personality and dignity” and “damages the public’s perception” of him in an “irreversible way”, according to the suit.

Rakipi responded by filing a counter-claim, demanding 16,000 euros in damages.

“The aim of his attacks against me is not just to damage my reputation but to close down my show,” Rakipi told journalists outside court on Tuesday.

“This is a political trial against a TV show that has exposed government dealings,” he added.

Last December, Rakipi’s show reported on how a ghost company managed to win an 18-million-euro contract from the Albanian Road Authority using false documents.

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The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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