KRIK editor-in-chief Stevan Dojcinovic was detained last night at an airport in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he was told that he is “blacklisted” and could not enter the country, so he was deported back to Serbia.
Airport police told Dojcinovic that UAE immigration authorities barred his entry due to his appearance on an “international blacklist,” but did not provide any specifics. He spent 12 hours under police supervision and he was put on the next flight back to Belgrade.
“They said that I was not blacklisted by the United Arab Emirates but that it was a request from another government, but they did not tell me which one”, Dojcinovic explained.
Dojcinovic was traveling to the UAE to speak at the UN’s biannual global gathering to combat corruption, after an official invitation from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He was confirmed as a conference speaker on today’s panel entitled, “Global Threats and International Cooperation: New approaches in addressing cross-border corruption, money laundering, and organized crime.”
KRIK editor was in a similar situation in Russia in 2015, when he was detained at an airport in Moscow and then deported to Serbia. He was then supposed to give a lecture on investigative journalism to the students of the Faculty of Journalism, but instead spent all day in custody and was barred from entering this country until 2020. Dojcinovic never received an explanation from the Russian authorities for this case, though he has formally sought it repeatedly. The only answer was sent to him by the Russian Federal Security Service, which in the letter only stated that they considered Dojcinovic a “threat to national security and public health”.
“Unlike Russia, the UAE police officers were kinder to me here, they had let me buy food under escort”, said Dojcinovic, who has just landed to Belgrade.
Several international organizations headed by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) are deeply concerned by yesterday’s detention of Stevan Dojcinovic.
“This is outrageous,” said Drew Sullivan, OCCRP’s editor. “When a state hosting the world’s largest, official anti-corruption gathering denies entry to an invited journalist, it raises serious questions about its commitment.”
“Over the years Stevan has exposed criminals and corrupt politicians who cross frontiers and know no borders. Then, on his way to speak truth to power, he was literally stopped at the border,” said OCCRP Co-Founder Paul Radu. “This is unacceptable.”
Recognized as one of the world’s best investigative journalists, Dojcinovic is the 2019 recipient of the Knight International Journalism Award by the International Center for Journalists.