SEE Check – a network of fact-checking portals in five Southeast European countries – gives its full support to Faktograf.hr which is targeted by a hacking attack. The attack came after a smear campaign against Faktograf initiated by a well-known entrepreneur Nenad Bakic, one of the most prominent opponents of stronger epidemiological measures in the fight against Covid-19 in Croatia.
“Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Faktograf’s newsroom has been exposed to regular hate speech and threats received through direct messages, emails, social media and fringe media that spread misinformation to make money on clicks, not caring about facts or the impact this has on public health. During that period, we reported almost 40 threats of physical violence and death to the police. As far as we know, no one has been held accountable for the threats made to Faktograf yet.
After a public call by the entrepreneur Nenad Bakić, who unfoundedly accused us of breaking the law and called for setting up “a fund to finance lawsuits and reports” against our newsroom, verbal attacks and threats against us intensified. The harrasment culminated in a hacking attack on our portal: starting on the evening of December 13th and continuing to 11AM on December 14th, there were more that 27 million log-in attempts to Faktograf’s page in less than 13 hours. In this organized DDoS attack most of the log-in attempts were from Russia and Indonesia“, Faktograf stated, adding that the criminal offence report has been filed with the Croatian police.
Harassment and threats against journalists are nothing new, unfortunately – both in our region and the world. However, pressures on the media, as well as incitement of violence against journalists, has recently become a practice in which government officials and other public personas often participate. It is precisely those whose publicly spoken word carries a great deal of responsibility who often initiate lawsuits with the sole purpose of financially draining and silencing the media (SLAPPs).
Journalism will not be intimidated by harassment or lawsuits. An aggressive minority will not stop any of SEE Check members from doing our job: insisting on facts and exposing those who endanger public health.