Source arrested for providing journalists with documentation on involvement of interior minister’s father in arms trading

October 16, 2019

It took 20 days for the public in Serbia to discover that Aleksandar Obradović, a worker at the state-owned Krušik weapons factory in Valjevo, had been in custody for 30 days – since his arrest on 18th September – due to suspicions that he revealed to journalists trade secrets of the factory where he works.

News of the arrest and detention – as well as suspicions that he was the worker who provided explosive information to journalists about the buyers and prices of Krušik weapons sales – were first reported to the public by journalist Vuk Cvijić in an article for weekly news magazine NIN, published on 10th October.

It was only after Cenzolovka republished Cvijić’s article that other media outlets began reporting on the story. Following a public reaction and protest rally in front of the Belgrade District Prison, where Obradović was in custody, the courts reacted and the Krušik employee was returned to house arrest, which was initially determined immediately following his arrest.

In his first interview after being returned to house arrest, Obradović – who is considered a whistleblower by many – told BIRN that the purpose of his public outrage was to ensure the truth about the factory’s business came out, confirming that he had contacted the media with that intention.

Among others, he also contacted BIRN and the Armswatch portal, which had previously reported on the involvement in arms deals of the father of Interior Minister Branko Stefanović as a representative of company GIM, and that he purchased weapons from the factory at preferentially discounted prices.

Obradović’s arrest came three days after the Armswatch portal reported that weapons from Krušik had ended up in the hands of fighters of the so-called Islamic State in Yemen. According to media reports, Obradović was arrested by members of the BIA Security Service, as if he were a notorious criminal.