Croatia: Swift response vital as Nacional magazine staff face death threats

Croatia: Swift response vital as Nacional magazine staff face death threats - Protection

The editorial office of the weekly magazine Nacional received death threats via an SMS message on Monday, 20 May 2024. The SafeJournalists Network and The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) partners call on the relevant institutions in Croatia to immediately identify, respond to, and prosecute the perpetrator.

Nacional’s official phone received the following text: ‘You and those like you carried out the attempted assassination of Prime Minister Fico by writing half-truths, lies, and inciting against people who are doing their jobs just to make money. Your triple informant paid for it with his life, and soon all the editors of the “axis of evil” will too. We are waiting for the moment to catch as many of you together as possible so that we don’t waste explosives on just one scavenger. The surviving vultures will start writing the truth and only the truth, not lying, inventing, and writing in order just to collect money. We are watching you, and getting more than two will be a success, so write your wills….’

Editorial staff at Nacional immediately reported the threat to the police and informed the Minister of the Interior, Davor Božinović. The threat is particularly alarming as it echoes the tragic story of Nacional’s owner and editor, Ivo Pukanić, and marketing director, Niko Franjić, who were killed in a bomb attack in Zagreb on 23 October 2008. ‘This threat is serious. You mentioned explosives. It is impossible not to think of our colleagues who were killed in a bomb assassination described by the state attorney as the most violent attack in modern Croatian history. But we will not let the threats affect our work,’ editor-in-chief Berislav Jelinić told the European Federation of Journalists. Jelinić was previously under police protection for five years, from 2008 to 2013, due to threats associated with the tobacco mafia linked to the killing of his colleagues in 2008. He has also been the target of two assassination attempts. The threat of death, already worrying, takes on an even more frightening dimension in this highly-charged context.

‘For the Croatian Journalists’ Association, this is a direct threat not only to the safety of our colleagues from Nacional, whom we support, but also a direct attack on media freedom,’ said Hrvoje Zovko, president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA). ‘I will just remind you that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, a little over a month ago, dangerously labeled several media outlets, including Nacional, as the “axis of evil”. I also remind you of the open threats from the leaders of the Domovinski pokret [political party] directed at the editorial office of the weekly Novosti and the entire journalistic community, practically marking the media as enemies of the state,’ Zovko emphasised.

The SafeJournalists network and MFRR partners are calling on the relevant institutions in Croatia to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrator of the death threat to justice. Such incidents represent a serious attack on media freedom and further endanger the safety of journalists working in increasingly difficult conditions on a daily basis. It is necessary to ensure that all journalists can carry out their jobs without fear of violence and threats, and it is therefore crucial that the relevant institutions demonstrate determination in protecting media freedoms. Organisations also call on authorities to stop targeting the media, as their inflammatory rhetoric encourages other individuals and groups to threaten journalists. 

We call on the authorities to provide meaningful support to journalists’ safety.


SafeJournalists Network 

Association of Journalists of Kosovo

Association of Journalists of Macedonia

BH Journalists Association

Croatian Journalists’ Association

Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia

Trade Union of Media of Montenegro


Media Freedom Rapid Response

European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)

International Press Institute (IPI)

Free Press Unlimited (FPU)

OBC Transeuropa (OBCT)

ARTICLE 19 Europe