Another organization has reacted regarding the attack that Erion Veliaj made against JOQ ALBANIA and the Lolita page two days ago. The European Center for Freedom of the Press and Media has reacted strongly, saying that the lives of the persons mentioned by the mayor of Tirana are in danger. According to this Center, Erion Veliaj has accused without facts and has even said that in this regard he has set the police in motion.
In the full response, the pro-government media are also mentioned, which made the mistake of Erion Veliaj, by publishing photos of people who are said to be administrators of JOQ Albania and Lolita. The organization calls on Erion Veliaj to apologize and make sure that the lives of the two people he mentioned are safe.
On 29 March 2023, the mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj named two individuals as the alleged administrators of two anonymous public interest and satirical blogs in Albania, leading to concern for the individuals’ safety. The unprecedented attempt to publicly identify owners of anonymous blogs came as Veliaj was speaking in the capital about new public transport routes in the city. During the event, Veliaj mentioned two popular satirical platforms: the personal Facebook blog Lolita, which has tens of thousands of followers in Albania, and another blog JOQ (Life is Fun), another popular Facebook page which allows users to comment. Media experts in Albania recognise the public interest nature of both platforms, which are run anonymously and are critical of the government and of the Tirana mayor. Both have a large following and have operated anonymously for years. During the event, Veliaj announced the name and the surname of the woman he claims is behind the Lolita blog, mentioning that she has two children. He also named a man who he claimed was the administrator of JOQ. The mayor alleged, without providing any evidence, that both platforms were engaged in blackmail against bus companies in Tirana, who he claimed were being threatened to pay money to avoid negative reviews. Some media observers in Albania raised serious questions about the claims. Media experts said that while the two influential blogs do not always follow ethical standards in their satire, both served a public interest role of holding power to account. The mayor’s comments and the full names of the alleged administrators were immediately reported by pro-government media, in addition to numerous other media across the country. Multiple verbal attacks and threats were made against two individuals in comment sections of these media, as well as on social media. This led to concerns over the physical safety of the two individuals. Critics raised particular concerns over the mayor’s specific mention of women and children as they might be put in danger. On a second appearance on 31 March, Veliaj again mentioned the individuals again and said "I have informed the asked the police and the prosecutor and it results that they are moving" implying they faced potential arrest.