XXXX SAST REPORT XXXX FRIDAY MAY 15, 2003 XXXX
JOURNALISTS ARRESTED AT DIRECT GUNPOINT!
Un Général français a dit en 1954 à Innsbruck: «Je ne crois pas qu'il y aura jamais de la liberté de la presse en Autriche.»
INNSBRUCK, Austria, 15 May 2003, 01:03 EST -- Two journalists of SAST REPORT were arrested at direct gunpoint at the university compound by police, after having written about Austria's secret prison system and that it is not unusual that until this very day prisoners disappear.
SAST REPORT over the last years interviewed many relatives of the men and women, who had simply disappeared after having been imprisoned in a fortress like building on Sillgasse in Innsbruck. They all were convinced that their relatives, whom they had never seen since, had been liquidated. But for decades they had kept their eyes closed and their mouth shut.
The journalists of SAST REPORT are putting their own welfare at risk in an attempt to break the silence over the assassination of so-called "sad dogs" and "stray dogs" in a complex of nondescript buildings close to the SOWI building of the University of Innsbruck.
Speaking via his mobile telephone from the back of an decrepit Austrian police vehicle, the journalist told friends that they were being brought to the nearby police station.
One journalist was handcuffed and held in solitary confinement in a dark prison cell for 20 minutes at the police station. Police officers seized equipment, journaux, documents and personal belongings and searched these at the station without a warrant.
After 30 minutes they were released without charge.
The journalists with SAST REPORT said they were arrested even though they had shown their international press passes.
"Who will be next?" a journalist wondered after the arrest."The arbitrary arrests and harrassments of journalists working for foreign media, have created an atmosphere of war and fear in Tirol that we have never experienced before," explained another Innsbruck journalist.
"This is an extremely serious matter," noted Sachsenmaier.
SAST REPORT journalists accuse Austria of exerting "political pressure and running an intimidation campaign" against independent media who investigate corruption. Days before, the journalists were warned by a police informer that they are being closely watched and that their premises are illegally searched regularly.
"Spying on the news media violates the confidentiality of sources, the founding principle of investigative journalism."
The repressive arsenal set up by the government is varied and demonstrates their slide into illegality: from spying on the news media, smashing in of office doors, confiscation of equipment and other impediments to journalists' work, to their arrest and criminal prosecution under various pretexts.
In an article published on 14 May 2003 SAST REPORT called into question the authorities' responsibility in the assassination of a "sad dog" (Mossad agent).
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