Year after arrest, Serbia’s reporter says she still feels mild PTSD


A day after receiving the 'Journalist of the Year' award by the Vojvodina Society of Independent Journalists (NDNV), Ana Lalic of the website told N1 on Friday, she still felt symptoms of a mild PTSD after the night in a cell, but more after months of threats and insults she suffered.

On the first anniversary of her arrest for „spreading panic during the state of emergency“ in Serbia in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, NDNV awarded her for defending the public’s right to be informed about the coronavirus uncompromisingly.

Lalic wrote about the Vojvodina Clinical Centre situation, citing inside sources who said they worked under dire conditions due to the shortage of equipment necessary for treating highly contagious COVID-19 patients.

The story was published on April 1, 2020, after 3 pm, and seven hours later, Lalic’s flat was searched, and she was arrested.

Lalic was released the next day, and the Government withdrew its decree on restricted reporting on the epidemic.

„I must admit I still have a mild PTSD due to that night in a cell, but more because of all severe threats and messages I had been receiving months after that. I had a feeling of being targeted. Someone recognisable in the street, where I could, if lucky enough, run into someone who would stop me and congratulate on the story, or those who would say I should be raped, killed, expelled from Serbia or infected with the coronavirus,“ Lalic told N1.

Dinko Gruhonjic, a journalist, said on Friday, her award was „a message to the state which arrested her that this was not an April Fool’s Day joke, but that we’re dead serious.“

„So, first Ana wrote what she wrote, and they thought they would thwart it by passing a decree. Then they arrested her according to that decree. We only drew attention to the fact that they were not foolish. We have shown the essence – that they should be afraid of us, not the other way around. And that’s, I think, the best message,“ he told N1, adding, „the only thing I’m sorry about and I will always regret is that Ana spent the night in prison,“ Gruhonjic said.