Long Term Persecution of Kosovo's Independent Journalist

Kosovo Albanian Independent journalist, Vedat Xhymshiti, is facing a constant persecution orchestrated by the government in Pristina. Since 2008, Vedat reported from the countries involved in peaceful and armed...

Kosovo Albanian Independent journalist, Vedat Xhymshiti, is facing a constant persecution orchestrated by the government in Pristina. Since 2008, Vedat reported from the countries involved in peaceful and armed rebellion. http://youtu.be/6xB-P-JewN8 


In 2010 Xhymshiti was interested in situation of serious organized crime development in the country, focusing particularly on the research of human trafficking. Given the fact that the treatment of such sensitive subjects was endangering his safety, Xhymshiti had sought the assistance from the Kosovo Police for security reasons, but he never received it, instead police took away his witness and closed the case and left Xhymshiti without protection while after Xhymshiti was deadly threatened. Even though he wanted so much to continue as he did, but could not reach the evidence as police had taken away his witness.

| In picture Vedat Xhymshiti speaking to YIHR ©Youth Initiative for Human Rights |
| CIVIL RIGHTS DEFENDERS | 

During July 2011, when the government had taken action for the first time after eleven years to extend the authority of institutions in the north, Xhymshiti reported on this issue for several international media. A ‘podcast report (in photo-audio format which can be seen by clicking on the link below: http://youtu.be/Xf-qbsckheA) which is posted on his blog and his YouTubechannel, had prompted a reaction from anonymous people who had called and urged Xhymshiti to remove this material immediately from the public, threatening him that if he wouldn’t do so, they would make him “forget that damn journalistic profession”.

At midnight between 4 and 5 October 2011, an unknown vehicle without license plates drove over his tent, which was located in the backyard of cultural house ‘Regjep Mitrovica’ in the northern divided city of Kosovo, Mitrovica. In this tent, Xhymshiti spent some nights in anticipation of possible actions of NATO forces to remove the barricade on the main bridge that divides the town of Mitrovica in south pre-dominated by ethnic Albanians and north by Serbs.

Fortunately, Xhymshiti had not been in tent when the unknown driver was driving over it, because he had noticed movement of paramilitaries in civilian clothes who were suspected of carrying weapons.
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ristina Municipal Court Invitation (scanned)

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Court Call (scanned)

Meanwhile, on 11 October 2011, Vedat Xhymshiti receives a ‘invitation order’ from the Pristina Municipal Court to appear before a court hearing on charges that he assaulted and obstructed police officers on duty during a protest, where he was photographing only (referring June 2006 where students were protesting against government).


What happened in this protest?
Vedat Xhymshiti had been exercising his duty as photographer, taking picture of protesters activity, while special units of the Kosovo Police intervened, physically beating protesters, including Vedat him self. Police had broken his camera whose card was taken by Vedat and hidden somewhere in his body.
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P

<![endif]–>During his arrest in the detention center police members brutally beat him, causing serious fracture in his left hand and left him without medical care for two days in his room at the prison in Pristina. Police had beaten him because he had not given e card with pictures made ​​during the police actio
n. After two days, doctors sent him to the University Clinical Center for medical treatment with a police guardian and the court decision was taken to keep him into custody for 30 days at Dubrava Prison.


With the introduction of the first hearing on 26 November 2011, the judge of the court case had confirmed that court doesn’t work during weekends, but the call of the court had given the filing date was 26 November 2011. However the case against him was re-written technically edited, and the reasons why Xhymshiti was called in for re-trial hearing which had to do with the fact that according to the court; the victims (in this case members of the Kosovo Police) had complained that Xhymshiti did not respect the decision of the court as according to new edited case was a “30 days house arrest”, observers and police reported that Xhymshiti didn’t respect the house arrest.

After the first assassination attempt made on his tent at midnight of 4th and 5th of October 2011 and the call from the Municipal Court of Pristina that reached his home on 11th of October 2011, Xhymshiti in early November, returns again in Northern Kosovo to report from there, where he faces a physical attack by the local Serbs who gathered in front of the Italian security forces break his camera, forcing him to leave the scene without any support of the security forces, leaving behind his professional equipment for recovery Xhymshiti receives help from Rory Peck Trust. http://rorypecktrust.org/vedat-xhymshiti

Legal proceedings continue, while journalist Vedat Xhymshiti continues to uncover the evidence and hear the witness testimony as well as the confession of two victims of human trafficking that tells him that there is a mafia network (criminals) within the Police Organization. These networks reportedly were strongly connected and backed by the domestic politics that are dealing with human trafficking, but the investigation could not continue, the next murder attempt against Xhymshiti is on the way.

In early January 2012, Xhymshiti’s sources within the Kosovo Police warn him that such a ‘strange and scary’ initiative is already taken against him, so his sources urged him to increase self care and safety because something really bad was ‘cooked’ against him by the criminals who were subject to his investigation.
           
On 14 January 2012 at a protest organized by opposition political entity in Kosovo against Serbian goods entering Kosovo, while Vedat was reporting for the British media (http://demotix.com/news/1003398/kosovo-police-disperse-and-arrest-self-determination-party-members) he intentionally got attacked through martial arts techniques from a uniformed member of the Kosovo Police, which was identified as Faruk Ibrahimi or otherwise driver of the regional police station commander in Gjilan Kosovo.

In picture Vedat Xhymshiti on the moment of attack by the Kosovo Police Forces. As you can see even civilians were involved in this deliberate murder attempt against him. ©KLAN Kosova TV ‘video screen shot’.

• check the video evidence: http://youtu.be/LTy9XS-yDXU

Reaction of the International/European Federation of Journalists (EFJ – IFJ)
Reaction of the South East European Media Organization (SEEMO – IPI)
On January 20, 2012 Xhymshiti’s home get surrounded by special units of the Kosovo Police, who under the justification of an arrest warrant from the Municipal Court of Pristina had forcibly taken him with the aim to be brought before a court hearing. In Gracanica municipality south of Pristina, police vehicle stood on the way by returning back home Xhymshiti, under the reasoning that the trial judge canceled the trial due to severe weather conditions, as snow reached up to 50/cm.

• The report of ‘Gazeta Jeta në Kosovë’ a news portal in Albanian language backed by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN): http://gazetajnk.com/?cid=1%2C979%2C1220

On 3rd of March another court session was held in which the judge said she had not issued any arrest warrant for Vedat Xhymshiti. While in session of May 6th, 2013, he told the municipal court that he would be traveling to the Middle East in a photojournalistic assignment to report from an armed conflict, saying, “If you plan to imprison me, please take a decision today. If you plan to punish me with financial compensation, then return to the days of prison decision because I cannot pay this unjust punishment. “In this case, the judge had suspended the police complaint closing the case against him as he had said.

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Vedat Xhymshiti in Syria

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Vedat Xhymshiti in Mitrovica Bridge ©Agron Beqiri
On 14 May 2012, Xhymshiti disposed his claim by pointing to account the country’s government and the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the organized attack, which was executed by the personal driver (police officer) of the regional commander of police station in Gjilan (eastern Kosovo town) on January 14, 2012. A detailed report for the Court Complaint Submission, reported by Kosovo’s News Agency ‘Kosova Press’ in Albanian Language can be read by clicking on the following  link: http://kosovapress.com/?cid=1%2C92%2C147200

However on May 16, 2012 Xhymshiti under the stress of threats from unknown telephone callers because he had lodged complaint against the government and the interior ministry flee from Kosovo, traveled to the Syrian Arab Republic from where he reported for the six months to prestigious Americanand Europeanmedia including Balkan Insight online newspaper ‘Gazeta Jeta ne Kosove’:

Photo-Story in Albanian Language from Syria: http://gazetajnk.com/?cid=1%2C1042%2C2373 
Der Spiegel: http://youtu.be/nxRlp0s-WM4

On 9thof August 2012 an article that was sponsored by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kosovo, who had found space in the newspaper ‘KOHA‘ claims that Vedat Xhymshiti is a member of an Albanian intelligence organization http://at-centre.org/, classifying an Albanian Counterterrorism Center of Studies as spying agency, also claiming that they have had contacted me and according to the author quoting Xhymshiti as saying “yes I am working for this Agency” which is not true as they didn’t even e-mail him neither called him to ask about it. He was in Syria during that August
2012.

  Quite unprofessional and in violation of journalistic ethics, the daily’s editorial board did not seen reasonable to publish the reaction of Xhymshiti who had just returned from the Republic of Syria in late august, even though he’d asked the editorial office to stage an explanatory meeting, ‘KOHA” newspaper refused. Despite the problem of conflict of interest that would lead to such a course referring to professional ethics Xhymshiti spends ten months of research and verification of claims, claimed by ‘KOHA’ newspaper, and found that this NGO which is certified by US state Department, Albanian and Kosovo governments to deal with the analytical reports weather the country is threatened by terrorism, Vedat also found that his name is not in any of these lists claimed by Newspaper ‘KOHA’. Xhymshiti published an article about ethics, which includes the case written by newspaper ‘KOHA’ and it can be read by clicking on the links below:

Vedat Xhymshiti Blog (Albanian Language) http://fb.me/6oZAoFyf7 
IndeksOnline; Well known Kosovar News Portal

In aftermath of Battlefield Medical Response Training Course in New York, NY ©RISC Training

During May 2013 Xhymshiti was awarded with a scholarship from ‘RISC Training Course’ in New York, to attend a Battlefield Medical Response’ training course. The RISC Training for the awarded freelance war reporters had covered the tuition fee and the accommodation, but traveling costs had to be covered by Xhymshiti, which as result of lack of support from the country he had to sell his motorcycle to make this training happen. Back from New York during June 24th 2013 his money were gone no assignments yet to be done still traumatized from the six month war reporting in Syria he had to sell all his professional equipment to make his living; survival; however he kept writing on his blog:

As a result of his commitment in the independent line editorial policy, Xhymshiti often faced with obstruction of obtaining Schengen visas from European embassiesaccredited in Pristina, since different government mechanisms have been lobbying to ‘blackout’ his image and credibility.

On July 7th, 2013 German Embassy in Pristina through a documented (doc #1& #2) signed and stamped decision to refuse the visa request of Vedat Xhymshiti.

German Embassy’s authorities declared Vedat’s passport as a falsified document even though on his passport there’s been four (4) issued official journalistic Schengen visa’s including the US journalistic Visa with which Xhymshiti had traveled to US during June 2013.

But this is not the only a contribution of the daily politics of the country. Xhymshiti is aware that this is due to the fact that he doesn’t spare even the foreign ambassadors who constantly interfere in the domestic and foreign political developments of the country, thus violating the right of free speech to attack on freedom of press in Kosovo.

By clicking on the links below you may be able to read two written articles about the abovementioned issues


Recently Xhymshiti wrote a journalistic article concerning the Foreign Ambassadors involvement in the Political organized Crime in Kosovo. The article is already online at ‘The Canadian Daily’ and is available for readers in the following link: http://fb.me/1R4swKhBG

In the occasion of the International day of press freedom Xhymshiti was faced with Kosovo police spokesman, but lack of interest by the National Associations called for the protection of journalists’ rights as a result of political pressures and influences, Xhymshiti was left without adequate support.

  • World Press Freedom Day TV Story 


Vedat Xhymshiti fainted down after being knocked-out from Kosovo Police January 14th, 2012 ©Klan KOSOVA TV

15 Months ago Xhymshiti had disposed a lawsuit in Pristina municipal court seeking justice for his human and professional rights violated by the state of Kosovo, but the whole subject is ‘sleeping’ in Municipal Court facilities. While the pressure through threats against independent journalist Vedat Xhymshiti is not ceased, on Friday August 9, 2013 Xhymshiti challenged the ‘decision of the German Embassy in Pristina that declared his passport ‘a falsified document’ as stamping the fifth rotating Journalistic Schengen visa which was approved by the Hungarian consulate in Pristina by reference of all documents Xhymshiti has offered as supporting evidence that he needed visa for  professional reasons to the Schengen area.

Xhymshiti recently is awarded by Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) with a scholarship to learn the Investigative Technichues during a five days course in Bled, Slovenija.
Support is needed, the facts are indisputable. Xhymshiti is concerned to have a security infrastructure for the purpose of performing his official duties as an independent journalist.

Justice for Vedat Xhymshiti, TAKE BACK THE FREEDOM OF PRESS


Read Vedat Xhymshiti’s CV

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