Government Official Discredits and Threatens Slovak Journalists

On 11 January 2024, Lukáš Machala, a high-ranking official at the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, discredited and threatened the Investigative Center of Ján Kuciak (ICJK) on his Telegram channel, calling it ‘a plague’. ICJK is one of VSquare member centers.

Machala, the Secretary General of the Service Office of the Ministry of Culture and member of ultranationalist Slovak National Party, called ICJK “a Soros team” and said ICJK will “no longer censor anything, nor will you play gods here and determine what is a conspiracy website or content… you are a PLAGUE and plague needs to be treated by antibiotics – sorry, antisorosiotics”.

This statement was a response to ICJK’s investigation into the spread of disinformation on Slovak Telegram channels. Machala has used this kind of language often and has not hesitated to speak publicly about such views even while working at the Ministry, where his role allows influence over the functioning of the Slovak public media. The Ministry of Culture is the main body responsible for media, freedom of the press and protection of journalists. Machala regularly gives interviews to “alternative” conspiracy media in Slovakia, considering them the only objective news source. The Ministry of Culture has not distanced itself from the comments.

The verbal attack on the ICJK, which was set up after the murder of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak in 2018, was condemned by international press freedom organisations. The ICJK has been instrumental in setting up a new platform dedicated to documenting attacks and threats, including verbal attacks, on media and journalists in Slovakia.

The incident was reported by Mapping Media Freedom, an initiative managed by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR).


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