In a video aired by Top Channel, Albania’s leading television channel, a suspected gang employee at a poultry farm appears to threaten and assault a journalist and camera operator.
“Earlier I was the one who could cut a woman into pieces, but now I have a little girl myself,” the man says in the video, speaking to a female journalist.
“If you were both men, you would both be dead in the woods,” a second gang employee threatens.
The incident took place at Ovvital, a poultry farm owned by an alleged crime gang member.
Albania’s Media Authority (AMA) has criticized the threatening of the journalists, describing the event as “a flagrant violation against freedom of speech.”
“The employees at [Ovvital] manhandled the journalists and used physical and psychological violence. They also damaged their equipment,” the AMA said.
Reporters Without Borders similarly condemned the violence carried out against the reporters, as well as perceived negligence on the part of police.
“The owners of a farm broke the equipment and threatened to beat the Top Channel journalist, Antelia Lika and the cameraman, while reporting their misuse of the bird flu that affects the farm chickens,” the organization posted to Twitter, “RSF condemns violence and police refusal to intervene despite being summoned.”
The journalists were reporting on a pandemic of bird flu that has killed hundreds of thousands of chickens at a number of farms in central Albania, sending the price of eggs soaring amid already high pressure on prices.
More than half a million birds have become infected with bird flu in Albania, including wild birds. According to conservationists, thousands of dead curly pelicans have been spotted on Lake Prespa in the last month; the large-scale spread of infections has raised concerns over the insufficient response from authorities.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Ermira Gjeci said at least 350,000 birds had died from the virus, with tens of thousands culled and buried daily. A further 120,000 birds are believed to be infected.
The incident occurred on property managed by Ovvital, a company owned by Xhevdet Troplini. According to Albanian police, Troplini is a suspected gang member. Even so, an investigation into Troplini in 2020 produced no proof of gang connections.
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