CoE reports smear campaign against British journalist

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 10, 2019 16:59

CoE reports smear campaign against British journalist

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  • Meanwhile, Taylor herself has not only refuted the authorities’ claims, saying she has a long list of documentation proving the dates she submitted the documents were well-within the legal limit and that, what’s more important, the migration office approved her permit renewal once only to withdraw it again with “orders from above,” as her partner was told when he went to pick it up.

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TIRANA, March 10 – The Council of Europe also reported on Friday in its media freedom platform claims that a “British journalist working in Albania for the web portal exit.al has been the target of a smear campaign following a statement given to Russia Today on 23 February 2019 related to the protests hitting the country.”

Last week, Tirana Times and a number of other media reported how British journalist Alice Elizabeth Taylor was denied her residence permit renewal under allegations of ties with Russia and her writings, which were often critical of the government.

According to the COE, Taylor wrote about vote rigging in the country, violent protests, the government’s links to organized crime and money laundering.

“Asked to comment about the state of corruption in Albania and the current developments in the country, Alice Taylor said to Russia Today that allegations of corruption can easily be documented with evidence showing links between the current government, organised crime, money laundering and drug trafficking. In her statement, she also questioned the fairness of the 2017 elections which confirmed Edi Rama as Prime Minister for a second term,” wrote the COE.

It was for this reason that a dozen of government-affiliated portals started publishing photos and articles accusing Taylor of being sponsored by Russia, while her partner, with whom Taylor is expecting a child, was also targeted on social media.

Following these developments, Taylor herself later reported in social media her residence permit renewal was rejected “with orders from above”, after first having been approved by the Migration Office.

Albanian authorities rejected Taylor’s claims that Albanian officials refused to renew her residency permit due to her profession and her criticism towards the government, however Taylor has said all her statements so far are well documented and dated.

An official source told the Voice of America that delays in the decision to renew the permit are only related to the procedures and that in this case there have been several violations.

According to the law, the source clarified, the application must be made 60 days before the the existing residence permit expires, which was dated 27 January 2019. Meanwhile, the “application file for the residence permit renewal was submitted on February 1, in violation of the deadline but also beyond the expiration of the existing permit. In this situation, the miss was obliged to pay a fine of 20,000 ALL,” explained the official source, adding that “failure to pay the fine hinders the fire to be uploaded on the residence permit portal in order for the file review to begin. According to the procedures, after being cast on the portal, the file is also reviewed by security authorities.”

Meanwhile, Taylor herself has not only refuted the authorities’ claims, saying she has a long list of documentation proving the dates she submitted the documents were well-within the legal limit and that, what’s more important, the migration office approved her permit renewal once only to withdraw it again with “orders from above,” as her partner was told when he went to pick it up.

“I filed all the documents under the lawful procedure. They told me they were OK, they had everything they needed and that everything was fine. I also made the payment, which was the last step of the process,” Taylor said.

Nonetheless, Taylor’s articles accusing the Rama government of corruption did not come of nowhere, but were actually mainly based on investigations conducted by a number of trustworthy media such as the Voice of America.

“I wrote about the corrupt connections that surfaced in the Voice of America, phone call interceptions during the past elections. I wrote for the opposition protests and for suspicious tenders, I wrote about environmental damage,” Taylor said.

Taylor is residing in Albania and has been instructed to leave in order to start all the applications from the beginning to the immigration office, although her medical report says she can not travel because of pregnancy complications.

In addition to the issues Taylor has reported, media freedom has also been receiving many blows from the Socialist government.

This led to four international organizations dealing with freedom of speech calling on Rama to drop amendment of two draft laws that foresee registration, surveillance, fining and banning internet media portals, introduced by Rama under his “anti-slander” package, back in December.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times March 10, 2019 16:59