A Montenegro court released independent journalist Jovo Martinović on January 5, pending the outcome of his trial, the journalist told the Committee to Protect Journalists. The court ordered Martinović, who spent more than 14 months in prison on charges of drug smuggling, to check in with police twice a month, and confiscated his passport, the journalist said. His next hearing is scheduled for January 19.
“Locking up Jovo Martinović for even a day has been a terrible injustice,” said Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “We call on authorities to remove all restrictions on the journalist and drop the charges immediately.”
Martinović was detained on October 22, 2015 for allegedly facilitating a meeting between drug dealers and buyers, and helping to install an app on the smart phone of an alleged drug gang leader, according to reports. The journalist denied wrongdoing and said his only interaction with his co-accused, who face drug charges, was in the context of reporting. CPJ, along with other groups, has advocated for Martinović’s release.
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović welcomed the release of journalist Jovo Martinović from pre-trial detention in Montenegro, calling for a swift conclusion of his case.
“Prolonged detention can have a detrimental impact on media freedom and a chilling effect on investigative journalism,” Mijatović said.
In February 2016 Mijatović wrote to the Prime Minister of Montenegro calling for a swift and thorough investigation into his case.
“Given the nature of his work, and the number of doubts and concerns surrounding the charges brought against him I once again call for the swift resolution of his case,” Mijatović said.