Court frees Serbian journalist held for espionage

NIS, May 15, 2000 -- (Reuters) A Serbian journalist detained by state security earlier this week on suspicion of espionage was released on Friday from a military court's detention center, the independent Beta news agency said.

Miroslav Filipovic, local correspondent for the independent Belgrade newspaper Danas and for the French news agency Agence France Presse, denied any spying.

He was taken from his home in the central town of Kraljevo by plainclothes policemen on Monday.

The officers produced a document saying Filipovic was being detained to prevent him from concealing or destroying evidence in legal proceedings and confiscated his computer hard drive, floppy disks, texts, passport, address book and personal papers.

Belgrade media said on Thursday that he might face espionage charges before the military court in the southern city of Nis.

After his release, Filipovic told reporters outside the military court that he had not been spying.

His lawyer, Goran Draganic, told Beta that military investigative judge Stanimir Radosavljevic told the court he would not launch criminal proceedings against Filipovic within a 48-hour deadline, thus releasing him from custody.

"The actions of the military prosecutor and military court were very correct. The military judicial system proved efficient," Draganic told Beta.

He said the military prosecutor could still press charges against Filipovic. But he added that he hoped the prosecutor would dismiss all charges.

Filipovic also worked for the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and the Helsinki Human Rights Committee.

The IWPR said Filipovic wrote about the Yugoslav security services, police repression in southern Serbia and a Yugoslav Army reservist protest in Kraljevo.

He also looked into atrocities allegedly committed by Yugoslav army soldiers in Kosovo during last year's NATO air strikes, based on soldiers' own accounts, and the plight of Kosovo Serbs who faced reprisals from ethnic Albanians following the withdrawal of Serbian security forces in June last year.

He said he had understood during a hearing in Kraljevo that he was suspected of spying between October and May for the IWPR.

"I reject any possibility that I was spying even without knowing it. If someone wants to spy on you, he will not publish his work under his full name," Filipovic said.

Original article