The Albanian Media Council strongly protests against the illegal detention and disproportionate violence against journalist Alfred Lela by police forces on “Dëshmorët e Kombit” Boulevard on May 17.
Mr. Lela was present at the scene as a journalist, following the developments of the demolition of the National Theater building. At 8:00 AM Mr. Alfred Lela was forcibly taken down, handcuffed as a terrorist, beaten and insulted by a group of police officers, one of whom was a civilian while some of the uniformed men were without identification numbers. The incident happened when Mr. Lela tried peacefully to mediate for the violent treatment of a lady by a group of 3 police officers. Mr Lela was kept for over 2 hours in the Police Station No- 1 of Tirana.
As seen from the video footage, at no point did Mr. Lela show any signs of physical or verbal aggression of any kind of violent attitude against the police.
In the words of Mr. Lela:
“Since i was arrested until the Police Station I was hit frequently in the head accompanied with verbal offenses. (…) My cuffs were too tight. I started to complain, laid down, face to the concrete, somebody’s knee on my neck and a hand hitting me in the head. (…) They kept me (offsite) until they could find a car to escort me. They hit me again and workers of the municipality (on the demolition site) offended me in length. (…) Before starting the car 2 other policemen were ordered via radio to play ignorant they were arresting a journalist, asked me about the name. I didn’t reply. (…) While we reached the Police station the 2 police were ordered via radio: “don’t let him use the phone”. In the car one of the policemen tried to release my handcuffs noticing that my wrists were swollen. He couldn’t because the key didn’t work.”
Mr Lela, is a journalist, the Editor of Politiko.al, Board member of the Albanian Media Council as well as a television personality. The detention and the violence against him it is another example of the aggressive approach and the disproportionate violence of the State Police against journalists, a mirror of the aggressive campaign that the Government itself has adopted towards media and freedom of expression.
We ask The State Police to apologize publicly about this case and in the future educate its troops that the media has the constitutional right to be at the scene to inform the public, and the arrest, detention and escort of journalists who are doing their job is unconstitutional and a direct violation against freedom of expression.