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Auszug aus dem Jahresbericht 2001: Österreich

AUSTRIA

The populist right stepped up pressure on journalists during 2000. Libel suits and verbal intimidation of journalists increased against a background of narrow control of the written press and a monopoly of public television.

Austria was criticised on 11 January by the European Human Rights Court for violating freedom of expression with a ban on the magazine News from publishing photos of a neo-Nazi supporter suspected of sending a letter-bomb. The Court said the ban was unjustified since other media continued to publish photos of the man and because the photos did not harm his right to privacy. Austria was ordered to pay 276,105 schillings (20,000 euros) in damages.

Pressure and obstruction

In early February 2000, Gerhard Marschall, a journalist on the daily Oberösterreichische Nachrichten (close to the Conservative Party), was dismissed when the government coalition of the FPÖ (Freedom Party) and the ÖVP (Conservative Party) took office, on grounds that his "critical view of things was no longer appropriate with the arrival in power of the new govemment," according to the newspaper Der Standard.

A journalist from the magazine Profil, Adelheid Wölfl, who was working on a profile of justice minister Dieter Böhmdorfer, was interrogated by police on 20 September. Wölfl was looking into the much-criticised methods of the minister's law firm, Böhmdorfer and Gheneff. She had phoned an employee of the firm who had not wanted to talk on the record. The reporter left her number to call back. Five minutes later, a member of the firm phoned the journalist and accused her of trying to infiltrate the firm and warned there would be "repercussions."

A crew from the Czech public TV station CT1 was turned back at the Austrian border post at Ceske Velenice-Gmünd on 3 November. The joumalists wanted to film Austrian anti-nuclear campaigners who had been blocking the border crossing since that morning in protest against the starting up of the nuclear power station at Temelin, 90 km south of Prague and 60 km from the Austrian border.

The Austrian news agency APA lodged a complaint in early November against the FPÖ, and its official press office, the Freiheitlicher Pressedienst (FPD), after violent attacks on one of APA's regional bureau chiefs. The APA correspondent in Klagenfurt (in Carinthia, where FPÖ leader Jörg Haider is governor) had reported on discussion inside the FPÖ and "well-informed circles" about the aim of the partys special congress at Villach on 9 November. The FPÖ had attacked the joumalist for "insulting" the FPÖ and "discrediting a political leader" and demanded that the APA management immediately correct the report which it said had been "concocted by a journalist who has lost his balance and written a report full of absurdities, lies and inaccuracies."

A freelance photographer, Gianluca Faccio, was attacked by two plainclothes police while covering a student demonstration in Vienna on 5 December and ordered to leave the scene. When he said he was a press photographer, the police asked for his press card, beat him and smashed his camera.


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