Montenegrin investigative journalist Jovo Martinovic, who spent nearly 15 months in detention for investigating trafficking and corruption Montenegro, has won the 2018 Peter Mackler Award for journalistic courage and ethics.
The 44-year-old journalist who has worked for many international media outlets such as the BBC, NPR, French channel Canal Plus, The Economist and The Financial Times, is “known for his extensive reporting on organized crime in Europe and war criminals in the Balkans,” according to the Peter Mackler Prize website.
“I can think of no greater tribute, on this 10th year of the award, than to recognize the achievements of a journalist who has courageously and at great personal cost devoted himself to reporting truth from that part of the world,” said Camille Mackler, director of the Peter Mackler Award at the Global Media Forum.
“The media is under attack like never before, and in this turbulent period for world order, it is more important than ever to recall the principles of ethical and courageous journalism. Jovo Martinovic has demonstrated these qualities tirelessly while fighting for his job, “she added.
The laureate was arrested in October 2015 by the Montenegrin authorities, accused of belonging to a drug trafficking network. His arrest was widely condemned by international NGOs.
He has always rejected the accusations, claiming that his contacts with criminal circles were only professional and part of his work as a journalist. He was working on the international gang of “Pink Panthers”, composed of robbers from the former Yugoslavia, which is suspected of a hundred jewelry heists worldwide.
Jovo Martinovic was finally released on bail in January 2017 after 15 months in detention. But he has yet to be tried, and faces up to ten years in prison if sentenced.
Under judicial control, deprived of his passport, he has been prevented from resuming his work as a full-time journalist. As a result, he will not be able to attend the award ceremony on September 27 in New York.
The Peter Mackler Award was created in memory of AFP’s former editor-in-chief for North America, who died in 2008. In addition to his tireless passion for information, Peter Mackler founded the Global Media Forum, a non-profit organisation to teach journalism around the world and introduce children to the principles of the profession.