NATO bombing strands visiting Serb journalists p.9

By: Joe Strupp Six Serbian journalists who came to the United States last month to tour American newsrooms have had their lives thrown into chaos following the NATO attack on Yugoslavia, which has made it difficult for them to return home. While four of the newspeople are attempting to find their way back, two others are stuck in the United States, including one who has received a draft notice to report for duty in the Serbian army.
"They are not in a position where they can go back easily," says Robert Means, who organized the goodwill tour for the United States Information Agency. "They are concerned about their families."
Means says the reporters' frustration stems both from concern for their relatives back home and the angst of not being able to report on the biggest news story of the year in their own backyard.
"Part of the irony is that they were here on a U.S. government-sponsored trip and their own government back home is getting bombed," says Means, a senior program officer for Delphi International, which helps organize goodwill exchanges for the government.
The journalists arrived in Washington, D.C., on March 8, took part in a three-week tour of several cities, and planned to return on March 27. When the bombing began on March 24, they were forced to change plans, Means says.
Four of the newspeople flew to Budapest with the intent of returning to Serbia, but Means says he has not heard from them. He says the other two journalists, Nikola Djuric, who owns a radio station in Nis, and print reporter Vesna Radivojevic of the Belgrade newspaper Glas Javnosti, remain in the United States under the protection of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.
In addition to worrying about his family and his radio station, Means says Djuric also is concerned about being arrested if he returns because, while he was out of the country, a draft notice was sent to his home. Because he failed to respond to serve in the military, he may be considered a deserter, Means says.
Government officials have already targeted Djuric's radio station as one of the information sources they wanted to close, but he doesn't know if it is still on the air.


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