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Bulgarian Journalist Who Was Probing Corruption Is Found Murdered


In many parts of the world, asking questions can be a dangerous business. Journalism can be a dangerous business. And this goes beyond war zones and areas of conflict. We've been closely following the story of Jamal Khashoggi. He's the Saudi journalist who went missing after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week.

And over the weekend, a Bulgarian journalist was found raped and murdered. The Committee to Protect Journalists, the CPJ, is calling on Bulgarian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation. And the committee's deputy executive director, Rob Mahoney, joins us on the line from New York City. Thanks for taking the time.

ROB MAHONEY: Good morning.

GREENE: I want to start with the journalist in Bulgaria, Victoria Marinova. What work was she doing before she died?

MAHONEY: Well, she had just started on a new TV program called "Detector." And she was looking into allegations of fraud in Southeast Europe, particularly embezzlement of EU funding. So she had not been long in the job. But she obviously was touching on very sensitive subjects there, which is, you know, corruption.

GREENE: And do you see a clear connection between that investigation and her murder?

MAHONEY: At this point, it's too early to say. That - you know, that's why we want the police to do a credible job of investigating this because in the past, that's not always been the case. If there is a link between her murder and her reporting, she will be the third journalist in the European Union to have been killed in the last 12 months for doing investigative reporting.

GREENE: And let me ask you about that. I mean, two investigative journalists killed in the EU in addition to her now. Is there something happening? Is there a climate in Europe that could explain - I mean, I know it's not tons of people. But, I mean, this certainly seems like maybe the beginning of a really disturbing trend.

MAHONEY: Well, what you've got is you've got more journalists doing more investigative journalism. You have a whole network of organizations that have banded together through newspapers, through online sites, that are doing deep dives into corruption, organized crime, human trafficking. And that is upsetting a lot of people, particularly corrupt officials and politicians and criminals. And so in a way, I think it's because journalists are doing their job well and successfully that they've stirred up a lot of - a lot of trouble for these criminals in Europe. That's one thing.

And then the other thing is there - in certain countries, there's just not enough enforcement of the law. And there's rampant impunity, which means that you can sometimes silence a critical journalist or close down an investigation by having that journalist killed because that then sends a warning and a very chilling message to others not to do the same thing.

GREENE: Are you optimistic that the situation can get safer for journalists - that, I mean, there could be better enforcement of the laws? I mean, are European countries paying attention to this and willing to work to make things better?

MAHONEY: They have to. Already, these - this murder is being condemned by senior officials in Brussels, by the secretary general of the United Nations. This is high-profile. But, you know, I'm not - I'm not going to be too optimistic because it's been a year since the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was blown up in her car in Malta. And we still don't have any justice in that case.

GREENE: Rob Mahoney of the Committee to Protect Journalists, talking to us about a disturbing trend in Europe, the death of journalists who have been doing investigations on the continent. We really appreciate your time. Thank you.

MAHONEY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.