Serbia bars foreign journalists ahead of rally

BELGRADE, Apr 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) - Foreign journalists and trade union officials were barred from entering Serbia on Thursday ahead of a major opposition rally, Belgrade media reported.

Four Japanese, one Canadian and one German reporter, as well as three Spanish trade union officials, were stopped at Belgrade airport as they arrived from Zurich and Vienna on Thursday afternoon, the independent news agency Beta reported.

Opposition leaders have called for a big anti-government protest in the capital on Friday. Opposition-run Studio B television said the order not to allow the group in to Serbia apparently came from the police.

One of the journalists told Beta that a passport control officer told them they must remain at the airport overnight and take the first return flight on Friday.

Beta reported that another journalist, working for Spain's El Pais, was sent back to Munich earlier on Thursday. A Reuters journalist was also turned back from the border with Croatia.

The trade unionists were due to attend a metal workers trade union congress in Belgrade on April 14 and 15.

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