SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Police raided the offices of a news portal Monday searching for clues about how journalists had obtained a recording of a phone conversation that said the governing Bosnian Serb party allegedly bribed two opposition lawmakers to win their votes in parliament.
Irfan Nefic, a police spokesman, says the raid by about half a dozen police officers was ordered by a Sarajevo court.
In an October election, the governing Independent Social Democrats narrowly maintained their majority in the parliament of the Bosnian Serb autonomous region. Prior to the vote, the portal Klix.ba posted a recording of a conversation during which Zeljka Cvijanovic, a top Independent Social Democrats official, allegedly said her party had paid two opposition lawmakers to ensure its majority.
Cvijanovic, who narrowly became regional prime minister after that election, claims the recording is a fabrication.
Monday's raid of the offices in Sarajevo took about seven hours, and the portal said on its website that police confiscated laptops, hard drives from all computers, private mobile phones, USB sticks and CDs.
Dozens of journalists who work for other companies stood outside the building to oppose the raid, during which three Klix.ba workers were held inside. One of those employees glued a paper on an office window saying "Journalism is not a crime."
Previously portal employees had refused to tell police the source of the recording.
"This is a blatant attack on media," Dario Novalic, the head of the Press Council in Bosnia, a self-regulatory body for print and online media, said Monday. He said the portal is being accused of unauthorized phone tapping.
Bosnia's Journalist Union said in a statement the police raid is "the most brutal attack on freedom of speech and journalist rights ever recorded in Bosnia," and is designed to scare journalists of this portal as well as all other media.