Investigation Ongoing: Kosovo Prosecutor Explains Crackdown of Misogynistic Telegram Group

Kosovo prosecutor, Elza Bajrami, told BIRN’s annual Internet Freedom Meet conference about the ongoing investigation against contributors to a group on messaging app Telegram that was used to publish derogatory videos, ‘deep fake’ images and women’s personal information, explaining how key suspects were successfully arrested.

Elza Bajrami, the Prishtina Basic Prosecution deputy Chief Prosecutor and case prosecutor behind the crackdown of a misogynistic group on messaging app Telegram called AlbKings, told BIRN’s annual Internet Freedom Meet conference, in Skopje, North Macedonia, that the investigation is ongoing, praising the success of arresting some key suspects. 

Prosecutor Bajrami emphasized  that “the arrest of the first person was one of the greatest successes of this case at the time,” explaining that the prosecution knew that the arrested had not acted alone. Through covert measures, the prosecution tracked down other group members, ultimately arresting the main administrator. 

Personal information, photos, and videos of women and girls, including the phone number of a BIRN journalist, were shared in the Telegram group which had over 100,000 members.

As of May 30, 2024, seven suspects have been arrested. 

Bajrami hailed this as one of the greatest achievements in her five-year prosecutorial career. 

“When we arrested the group’s admin, it was one of the best moments of my life as a prosecutor. I knew I was supporting the harmed parties,” she remarked.

Some of the arrests were made shortly after BIRN reported to the Kosovo Police and the Pristina Basic Prosecutor’s Office that the phone number of a BIRN journalist had been shared in the Albanian-language Telegram group.

The participants in the conference saw exclusive footage, filmed by a BIRN and Internews Kosova crew, of the arrest of two suspected members of the AlbKings group. The footage showed the police raiding the houses of two men, one in Gjilan who was suspected of being the admin of the group and another in Prishtina who allegedly harassed a BIRN Kosovo journalist after her phone number was shared in the group without her consent. 

Xhorxhina Bami, Kosovo correspondent for BIRN’s flagship publication Balkan Insight, and Prishtina Insight editor, emphasized that, for safety reasons, the identity of BIRN’s journalist  whose phone number was published in the Albkings group remains undisclosed. 

The affected journalist received numerous messages and phone calls after her number was shared in the Albkings Telegram group. 

Bami also described how group members accessed and shared photos and videos, often of minors, amongst themselves.

 “Men and boys requested specific information (about women and girls), and intimate photos of individuals were shared. In many cases, the victims were minors,” she added.

The four-day conference, organized by BIRN and running from June 17 to June 20, addressed critical topics including internet usage, digital data protection, disinformation, public surveillance cameras, and the misuse of social networks for malicious purposes. 

In March this year, based on content analysis and interviews with experts, BIRN found that TikTok is also being used across the Balkans to abuse and humiliate women and girls.

BIRN identified 427 videos posted between September 2020 and November 2023 that humiliated girls and women.

The videos were shared by accounts in Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia. In total, the videos were viewed more than 30 million times, and each garnered dozens, sometimes hundreds, of abusive comments.

Several of the TikTok videos in question which were shared by accounts in Kosovo were also shared in the Albkings Telegram group.

Source @Prishtina Insight: Read more : Kosovo Kosovo News