US condemns alleged intimidation Bosnia press

SARAJEVO, Jun 27, 2000 -- (Reuters) The United States condemned on Monday measures taken by Bosnian federation authorities against the Bosnian newspaper Dnevni Avaz, saying the government was trying to intimidate the free press.

Tax police have raided the newspaper's premises on several occasions over the past two weeks and the tax authorities have frozen its bank accounts for several days.

The Prime Minister of Bosnia's Moslem-Croat Federation was quoted on Saturday as denying that his government was using the tax inspections to intimidate Dnevni Avaz.

Prime Minister Edhem Bicakcic said they were routine checks and the newspaper was one of 70 companies being inspected.

But U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker, in a statement issued on Monday, said the measures seemed to be in response to articles critical of the government.

"The United States strongly condemns efforts by the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to intimidate the free press," Reeker added.

"The United States is disappointed by recent abuses of those (press) rights and freedoms by Bosnian Federation government authorities," he said.

The authorities should investigate the behavior of the tax police and should take disciplinary action, maybe including prosecution or dismissal, against any wrongdoers, he added.

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