Albanian journalists detained for spreading quake scare - Balkan Insight
Albanian police quizzed two journalists whose alarmist reports of a major earthquake in the country had people fleeing from their homes – after tremors injured a number of people and damaged property over the weekend, as Balkan Insight reported.
Albanian police said they detained two journalists, Aurel Rakipllari from the Syri.net news website and Daniela Grica, from Shekulli newspaper, for “publishing false information that caused panic” about likely earthquakes, after weekend quakes caused light injuries and damage to properties.
The aftershock of a quake on Saturday left some people sleeping in their cars or in fields. However, after another strong tremor at 8pm on Sunday evening, some media reported more alarming news, stating: “A Greek seismographer says stay away from your homes, a major earthquake is expected around 11:30pm.”
Entire families then left their homes and a major highway was clogged by cars attempting to flee the capital, Tirana. The scare lasted for about two hours, after which people started to calm down.
Syri.net, a firebrand opposition media outlet that had carried this report, claimed the arrest of its journalist was selective and was aimed at closing down the free media.
“The news that advised citizens to stay outside due to the forecast of the Greek seismographer is being used as a justification by [Prime Minister Edi] Rama to close down the most critical portal against the government,” Syri said.
Akis Tselentis, a Greek seismographer, has been interviewed extensively by the Albanian media over the last few days. He says Albania is situated in a active seismic zone and the probability of major earthquakes remains high. However, some media went beyond his words in foreseeing a major earthquake at 11pm..