Lithuania ranks 36th in the annual World Press Freedom Index, produced by Reporters Without Borders, unchanged from last year.
© DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

Reporters Without Borders concluded that the leading national media enjoy freedom of expression but the situation is problematic at the regional level where "local newspapers often depend on regional political parties and their leaders".

The Paris-based organization's report also mentions last year's cyber attacks against the news agency BNS and the tv3.lt news website, when fake news were reported, which created "a climate of insecurity among Lithuania’s journalists".

Early this year, the tv3.lt news website was hacked and a fake new was published, claiming that Lithuanian National Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis harassed a journalist and allegedly came out as gay.

Last year, the news agency BNS was hacked and a fake new on American troops allegedly poisoned with Iprit was published.

Describing the situation in Lithuania, Reporters Without Borders also mentioned the special panel set up in the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, to "look into the public broadcaster LRT's activity".

The panel was set up at the initiative of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union to look into whether the national broadcaster was properly spending budget funds. Critics said the creation of such a panel amounted to political pressure on the media.

Neighboring Latvia comes in 24th in the index, Estonia is 12th, Poland is 58th, Belarus ranks 180th and Russia is 148th.

Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland top the list and North Korea and Eritrea are at the bottom.

BNS
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