Kickl seeks to neutralise critical media

Austria's minister of the interior Herbert Kickl, of the right-wing nationalist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), has urged Austrian police in an email to restrict the access to information of media that are critical of the government to a minimum. The minister said in addition that police press releases should cite both the nationality and the residency status of criminal suspects. The Austrian press is appalled.

Open/close all quotes
Der Standard (AT) /

Frontal attack on Austria's press freedom

The interior minister's email is an attack on basic democratic rights, Der Standard argues:

“The relationship between the serious media and the FPÖ is, to put it mildly, a tense one. Put less mildly: the FPÖ sees journalists who are critical in their coverage of the party primarily as enemies and denounces them with expressions such as 'left-wing ghostwriters' of the 'system media'. Okay, this all comes under freedom of expression. So far, so bad. But what is going on now in the interior ministry under Herbert Kickl is a frontal attack on media freedom.”

Kurier (AT) /

Interior minister aiming to abolish democracy

The interior minister is unfit for his post, comments Kurier, one of the newspapers mentioned in Kickl's email:

“In any case, Kickl is creating his own media world when he uses large amounts of taxpayers' money to pay camera teams to praise his actions on the ministry's website or on Facebook. At the same time he's trying to prevent reputable journalists from doing their job. As the website of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize puts it: 'Investigative journalism enlightens the public by finding and revealing information that government and private institutions may otherwise suppress.' Holding the powerful accountable for their actions is the job of the free media in a free country. Anyone who wants to stop them from doing so in fact wants a different political system.”