Prague, March 12 (CTK) – The Czech Centre of the International PEN Club has called on President Milos Zeman to apologise for the statements about Czech media that he made in his inauguration address last week and for attacking the freedom of speech in this way.
“We ask President Zeman to reconsider his stances on journalists and make a public apology to the media he attacked,” the centre writes.
Zeman’s spokesman Jiri Ovcacek dismissed the centre’s statement. He did not comment on its demand that Zeman apologise.
On March 8, Zeman said in the inauguration address that the Czech Television (CT) public broadcaster and some media of the Economia group manipulated the public opinion.
Both the CT and Economia dismissed the allegation.
The Czech PEN centre emphasised that Zeman did not submit any evidence of his words.
“We perceive the president’s words not only as a gross attack on the freedom of speech but also as a creation of hateful atmosphere towards journalists. In Slovakia, similar tendencies led to the murder of two young people,” the centre writes.
Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee were shot dead in their house in late February, probably in relation to Kuciak’s work. The case led to a political crisis in Slovakia and the interior minister resigned due to it on Monday.
Ovcacek criticised the centre for its stance. “The Czech PEN club attacks the freedom of speech in an unprecedented way and abuses a murder of two people for political goals,” he tweeted.
The Czech PEN centre also noted that Zeman did not attack the media from the Mafra group indirectly owned by prosecuted Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO).
The PEN centre is an association of writers, publishers, translators, reviewers and literary researchers.