The Council of Europe has accepted the alert of the Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria (AEJ-Bulgaria) about the arson attack against Zornitsa Akmanova, a reporter for the TV programme Lords of the Air. The case is registered in the Council of Europe’s platform, which promotes the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. It aims to improve the protection of journalists, better address threats and violence against media professionals and foster early warning mechanisms and response capacity within the Council of Europe. Since 2015 AEJ-Bulgaria is a member of international coalition of organizations, which are enabled to report to this specialized platform.
In details, on 4 October 2017, Akmanova’s car was set on fire in the central Bulgarian town of Karlovo. On the following day, the owner of a car garage in Karlovo, Plamen Dimitrov, was arrested in connection with the attack on Akmanova’s car.
A few hours before the arson, the local authorities had closed Dimitrov’s garage business following TV reports by Akmanova which suggested Dimitrov had been involved in several frauds against clients. Akmanova has said she had previously received threats warning her to stop reporting on Dimitrov’s activities.
On 9 October, Dimitrov was released on bail after being charged with a single act of fraud against a client. No charges have been brought in connection with the burning of Akmanova’s car or the threats she says she has received
The Council of Europe notes that the attack on Akmanova’s car has been the third case of threats or violence against reporters for Lords of the Rings so far this year.
In July, Dimitar Varbanov said he had received threats in relation to his investigation of dangerous working conditions at a construction site in the town of Veliko Tarnovo. In the spring, his colleague Eva Veselinova was physically assaulted while filming an investigation into alleged fraudulent practices on the part of a construction company in the town of Pazardzhik.