YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—The Bulgarian Trud Daily newspaper has fired Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, the journalist, who last month published an expose about Azerbaijan’s support for terrorists, reporting that 350 Azerbaijani diplomatic flights carry weapons for terrorists.
Gaytandzhieva said in a Facebook post she was fired a few days before going back to Syria to continue her job.
Gaytandzhieva’s comes after the she was summoned to the Bulgarian Special Security Agency for an interrogation.
“A few days ago I received a call from an agent working for the Bulgarian Special Security Agency. He told me to go to their office. I was questioned, I was interrogated about the source of information I used while preparing my investigation on the weapon supplies to terrorists,” Gaytandzhieva said in an interview with Armenpress.
“I explained everything and I was very honest with the public in my article. And I explained in full how I got those secret documents. I refused to give any other information aside from what I had already provided in the article. Two hours later after my investigation I got a phone call from the secretary of the newspaper where I used to work – Trud Daily – and she asked me to file my resignation letter by the end of the day,” the journalist said. She didn’t even have a chance to meet the editor-in-chief and was not told about the reasons why she had been fired.
Who’s behind all this? Dilyana Gaytandzhieva says “it should be very influential people, and not only in Bulgaria.” “This case is not about a personal issue. This is about the freedom of speech in general,” she says.
“When the article was published, the Azeri Embassy to Bulgaria sent a letter to Bulgarian media to complain that my article was against them. However, it was not against them. It was against the criminal scheme, which Azerbaijan is part of,” Gaytandzhieva said.
However, the journalist says “the article was not against the Embassy. “The Embassy was just the source of information after being subjected to a cyber-attack.”
“The Embassy urged the Bulgarian authorities to investigate me and investigate the cyber-attack. As I understood, after that complaint the Bulgarian National Security Agency launched an investigation into the cyber-attack, and now they are investigating not the content of the documents, not the criminal scheme, not the weapon supplies to terrorists. They are investigating my sources, my right to have this information, because this information is of public interest not only for Bulgaria, but also of the whole world. So after the complaint of the Azeri Embassy I was interrogated and fired,” Gaytandzhieva said in an interview.
The journalist, who used to work for Trud Daily, considers that the paper is not ready to be an independent media and to support independent journalism.” “Just two weeks ago I was on a meeting with my chief editor, who asked me not to give up and continue my investigation. We were arranging my assignment to Syria to continue the story, to investigate the supply of weapons on the ground. All of a sudden, when I was about to leave for Syria, my contract was suspended without any explanation,” she continued.
Gaytandzhieva assures, however, that no one can stop her from continuing with the investigation. “They couldn’t stop me two months ago, they couldn’t stop me yesterday to speak out. I just posted on social media. They can’t force an independent journalist to keep silent. I’m not obliged to anybody, I’m obliged to tell the truth to the people, this is my job.”
“I repeat that it’s not about me, it’s about journalism in Bulgaria, journalism in Azerbaijan for example. I received a lot of angry comments by Azeri people, and my guess is that they are related to the government of Azerbaijan. So, how can we fight against terrorist schemes if we stand against these people, against the President of Azerbaijan? I’m not afraid to say that the Bulgarian government is well informed about this scheme, because all the diplomatic clearances I have documents about were given by the Bulgarian authorities, and by other countries in Europe, the US and others. All countries you can think of are involved,” the journalist said.
Gaytandzhieva is confident that the development is a result of Azerbaijan’s intervention in Bulgaria’s internal affairs. “My interrogation happened after the Azeri Embassy in Bulgaria urged the Bulgarian authorities to investigate me.”
What can the international community do to fight illegal weapon smuggling? Gaytandzhieva says that under international law, supplying weapons to militants constitutes an international crime, which must be prosecuted and investigated by international bodies.
“In our case we can speak about an independent international investigation by the United Nations. The UN should launch an investigation against the Azeri authorities in the first place, because they provide their state company, their diplomatic flights to carry weapons, and I have documents proving this. The UN should launch investigation against Azerbaijan, against my country, against the United States, against Saudi Arabia, against all involved without differentiation. All of those involved should be investigated. If the UN really wants to stop terrorism, it should start with stopping the weapon supplies,” she said.
Gaytandzhieva is determined to continue the investigation. “I have nothing to lose, I need support from other independent journalists, support from people. My power is the truth. So I have nothing to lose any more, and I’m not going to turn back. Nothing in this world will change, if journalists don’t show the truth. We’re not journalists any more, if we don’t speak up, if we don’t show the truth.”
Any expectation from international media, considering that the journalist’s professional activity is being blocked.
She expects no support from international media. “I’m not the first and last journalist to be fired for doing their job. I don’t have high expectations from mainstream media, because they have their political agenda, their objectives and they policy. What I expect is to be able to spread this information worldwide not by mainstream media,” she noted.
Gaytandzhieva also revealed facts of Azerbaijan paying to journalists to have certain articles published. “I can give you a fact obtained from the leaked documents after the cyber-attack on the Azerbaijani Embassy. The Azerbaijani Embassy pays money to journalists for articles in favor of Azerbaijan or articles ordered to be published by Azerbaijan.”
“I’m going to set up my on on-line media, because no one in Bulgaria will now agree to publish my investigations. I will not be offered job in Bulgarian media. So I think about establishing my own media, this is the solution,” the journalist concluded.