Novi list, 23. december 1998.
ŽELJKO PERATOVIĆ, JOURNALIST OF «GLOBUS», ABOUT THE THREATS OF THE ADVISOR IN HIS (Croatian Intelligence Service), AFTER THE ARTICLES WHICH HE HASN’T SUITED
THE BIG INTELLIGENCE AGENT PERKOVIĆ HAS WAVED THE PISTOL
When a present or a former intelligence agent offers cooperation to a journalist, it means that information are not for free. Because, an intelligence agent always stays an intelligence agent and he needs the information, in the first place. By cooperating with an intelligence agent, a journalist can put himself in a situation to, consciously or unconsciously, rat on his colleagues, some of his informants or the informants of his colleagues. It can also be someone’s life in danger. I’m interested in objective research journalism and information checked in a few sources. One of the sources can be intelligence, but I must be sure, as a journalist, that other sources, which confirmed an information, independent in relation to intelligence source.
Talked Robert FRANK
The most glaring proof that the journalism in Croatia become one of the most dangerous professions, confirms the open threat – said in the face – several days ago, in the presence of witnesses, in restaurant «Plitvicka kuca», on the Zagreb bypass, to the journalist of Globus byJosip Perković, the advisor in HIS, and the lecturer on the Intelligence Academy in Zagreb. For most of the people, Perkovic is the most informed and the most powerful intelligence agent in this areas. Formerly, he was a chief of Second departement of the Service of national safety, which was engaged in Croatian emigrants, and since the beginning of 80s till today he has worked on forming the intelligence services in Ministry of defense and Ministry of internal affairs. The threat that he could kill journalist Peratović on the spot, and he could get the most two years for that, Perković has said in conversation in different but again similar variations, and loudly has repeted that three times.
Obviously provoked by writing of Željko Peratović, resenting him that he «writes systematically negative», Perković arranged an unofficial meeting, with the journalist of Globus, on which he tried to scared him by death threats and probably dissuade from further writing.
This case shows that the position of investigative journalists in Croatia is getting harder every day. After the files which containe details of private lives of chief editors and leading journalists of several Croatian weekly papers, which was made by Croatian intelligence service, this is obviously new, the more radical form of struggle agains the journalists, who write about delicate and for Croatian government often compromising themes.
Illegal and intimidating
«Everybody asks me today, am I afraid. When you are dealing with such dangerous things, the most important is that your editorial office stands behin you. Actually, I enjoy the full support of my chief editor Đurđica Klancir, who has felt on her own skin what it means when intelligence services are dealing with you. Anyway, it is known that she recently brought out her disgust, when she has seen authentical SZUP file about herself. In the file there were nothing about her conscious or unconscious acting against the state, but there were noted down some informations about her private life. Are the informations true, is not important. It is important that the SZUP has collected that informations with intention to blackmail the chief editor of «Globus», or in some another way try to manipulate with her, through the responsible public function which she executes. It si not only illegal – it is also intimidating! Since Djurdjica Klancir is fully aware to which dangers I expose myself by doing my job, I enjoy the full support of hers. If it isn’ t so, if there isn’ t mutual confidence, I wouldn’t deal with these businesses, at least not in this editorial office. Besides that, I enjoy the big support from Tanja Torbarina, and since I work in Globus she is persuading me to deal with dangerous themes and not to give up. Otherwise, Tanja Torbarina was accused, by the end of 80s, by Jakov Blažević for working for CIA, for thousands of dollars», said Željko Peratović, one of the leading investigative journalists.
Several days after the incident with Josip Perković, we talked with Peratović in Press club cafe in center of Zagreb.
«Considering the frequency of threats that I’m exposed to, also a part of my family, I asked some of my numerous friends, volunteers of our Homeland war, to take care of my security and to help me to endure in performing my work. They always know where am I, and if I’m not with somebody of my private life, then they know with who am I», said Peratovic and added: «The text about my first meeting with Perković, during which he on incredibly impertinent and suprisingly aggressive way threatened me with death, in moments squeamishly praying to write something positive about him and then we will cooperate, I wrote on persuation of my chief editor. We concluded that the text in our papers will be the best protection for me, not only in physical sense, but also possible manipulations from Perković. In narrower journalist circles it is known that some independant journalists, who were, for a long time, actually, spokesmen of lightning the rolle of Josip Perković in comunism and our Homeland war, and I didn’ t even know the man exists, after several meetings with him, stopped writing about him. Simply, they stopped to mention him in their texts. What aruments he gave them about himself, as one fo the most positive persons in whole Homeland war, I don’ t know. To me none», said Peratović.
It is sad, he said, when journalists he to speak about themselves and their professional problems, so he accepted the interview for our papers to inform the public and the colleagues about dark things which are happening.
It is not matter of my paranoid projections. If somebody is paranoid, then those are the ones who through television, or like to me, unofficialiy in restaurant, telling us that we are surrounded by internal and external enemies, and not giving us for that any concrete proof. I think those paranoias are their and not our problem, and we shouldn’ t be afraid because of that, not a bit. And for now, our best protection is public word.
Josip Perković in Institute for State safety in Belgrade, photographed in company of colleagues top-graded functionaries of SDS/SDB, obligated for «work in Croatia, enemy emigration». The identity of a person whose face is darkened is unknown. On left to right: Petar Đorđević, Josip Perković, Ivan Lasić, Stanko Čolak and Božidar Spasić. The owner of weekly magazine Ivo Pukanić «Nacional» in one e-mail writes that the photo was taken in 1986. when Petar Đorđević was going to retirement.
Peratović started to occupy himself with journalism in «Vjesnik» at the end of his studies sociology on Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. He said Vjesnik, as at that tme respectable newspapers editorial office, in war years started to collapse, so it was no suprise they sent him at once, even he was a beginner, to be head war reporter.
First journalist war baptisms he had at the end of August 1991. in Vukovar and Gospić. He was in battlefields in hinterland of Dubrovnik, Western Slavonia and Bosnian Posavina. Even tody he can’t forget himself, that after the return from Eastern Slavonia, at the time of battle for Vukovar, on unofficial question of one of his editors about was it the truth that Mile Dedaković Jastreb was beating Šid (town in Vojvodina – Serbija) with howitzers, replied affirmative. Namely, he believed, that Vukovar comander only helps the deffense of Vukovar. So, he didn’t write that information, and he thought that his editor devides his oppinion. The editor, however, didn’t think so, or maybe some editorial shadow thought differentlly, so the next day Jastreb was accused, from one official instance, to do harm to the Croatian side, because he is attacking the teritory of another country. It was not the only example when he felt that the shadows of secret services rules the «Vjesnik» and that somebody wanted to use him in some dirty games. After Vjesnik he came to Slobodna Dalmacija under stick of late Joško Kulušić. In that papers, among other, he published the feuilleton about two year war path of 1. gaurdian brigade, popular «Tigers». He made the feuilleton living with fighters on Dubrovnik and Herzegovinian fields.
Then he was the first Zagreb chief of correspondency of Glas Slavonije, he worked as an editor inArena, Zagrebački trg, Panorama, Nacional, and since the end of 1996. he was investigative journalist in Globus.
The meeting in «Plitvička kuća»
* By what you wrote in «Globus» about meeting with Josip Perković, you prepared yourself very well. Among other, you also had physical escort.
– Of course. I did that because he chose the place of meeting, motel «Plitvice», that was restaurant «Plitvicka kuca». In Zagreb everybody knows that it is the place for secret love couples. My suggestion was to meet him in some café in the city, where somebody known could sees us, so nobody could say later that we didn’ t meet. That’ t why I asked my friends, when we had to meet in a motel, that they discretely appear in Plitvička kuća, in first place, as witnesses. By my knowledge, Perković doesn’t feel completely safe, considering the political circumstances in Croatia.
His system of controlling over some journalists and editorial offices is not functioning as before, so I was suspicious that he is going to scare me. I didn’t think that he was going to kill me or somebody close to him, but as I don’ t wear weapons, I thought that it was not unnecessary to have peole who are more skilled than me in that things nearby. It was showed that I correct in my intuition.
* In what way Perković asked for a meeting with you?
– One his mediator, Zdravko Pejić, a man whom Perković found a job in SDS in Osijek, and later he was his backing when he was the chief of SZUP, during the war in Slavonia, in autumn 1997. he gave me some useful informations about controverse war happenings in Osijek. Then I didn’t know anybody who was so close to Perković. I even didn’t know Perković, although I heard a lot about that man, from some colleagues, while I was working in Nacional. So, that Perkovic’s friend, Zdravko Pejić, who is now formaly in civilian businesses, even then, all around, started to talk abou Perković. He was representing him as a great intelligence professionalist, Croat, who was at that time, the advisor in HIS. He told me it was worth to meet him and that Perkovic would be of big help to me. That person used very sophisticated words, ascetic sport spirit was aerating from him, so it was very pleasant to talk with him, and I was curious.
However, I didn’ t like when he started to gossip one colleague, who was a famous journalist, but that person thought that she was immoral, and she was doing her job often unprofessionaly. In other hand, that person was flattering to my alleged insight, supporting my attitudes about the profession. He was constantly returning on matter how a good journalist and a good intelligence agent could cooperate on the mutual benefit, and in that way, at least as for his experience, lots of journalists made successful carrieres. He talked a lot about the ways he used as an operative of SDS, popular UDBA, about recruiting in a nice way, even intellectuals… «To someone it was helped to find a job for a wife, someone had a close relative connecting with crime, so it was forgiven to that relative …», he said. It was all, you know, nice to listen, but I think that no journalist should be impressed by things like that. Although we live in a country where is to a journalist a big problem to get a common stastistic data about, for example, number of employed people, I think there are much better and honourable ways to get an information but to cooperate with intelligence agents.
* What means, by your oppinion, when an intelligence agent offers a cooperation to a journalist?
– In most cases, when a present or a former intelligence agent offers cooperation to a journalist, it means that informations are not for free. Because, an intelligence agent always stays an intelligence agent and he needs the information, in the first place. By cooperating with an intelligence agent, a journalist can put himself in a situation to, consciously or unconsciously, rat on his colleagues, some of his informants or the informants of his colleagues. It can also be someone’s life in danger. I’m interested in objective research journalism and information checked in a few sources. One of the sources can be intelligence, but I must be sure, as a journalist, that other sources, which confirmed an information, independent in relation to intelligence source, and I don’ t want , in any case, by doing my job, and to get an information urgentlly, behave differently from this what I have wrote. I don’ t want to hurt anybody, not to mister Perkovic, and I tried to explain that to him in three hours conversation, endless times on examples.
The eggs of «the golden hen»
* Let’s get back, for a moment, to mediator who connected you with Perkovic. Did you accept to meet Perković for the first time when it was suggested to you?
– I told him that I will think about it. I didn’ t want to close the door to any kind of communication. Although, I was firmly convinced that he was perssuasing me on police kind of cooperation, what disgused me the same moment. But, I didn’ t want to show that. When I, at the end of the last year, was reporting about projection of the film about controverse death of Miro Baresic , and the projection was in Slovenia, I called the mentioned Zdravko Pejić and asked him to connect me with Perkovic, because I wanted his statement about claims in that film, that he was also, in some way, interfered in mysterious death of Miro Baresic. Zdravko Pejić called me in few minutes. He informed me that he talked with Perković, but he said that he has nothing to declare publicly, because he was the chief of SIS at the time of Baresic’ s death and he gave his report to the highest authority. Further, he has sent a message to me, that he was a friend with minister Šušak and a member of Parliament Vukojević, who were proclaimed in the similar way in that film, and if he perhaps publicly speak about the circummstances of Baresic’ s return in Croatia, he had to talk about Šušak and about Vukojevic. Zdravko Pejić then emphasized to me that Perkovic was Miroslav Tudjman’s best friend, and it would be the best that I meet with Perkovic, who knows very much, on a cup of coffee, and then he, Perkovic, could become my «golden hen».
Zdravko Pejić shot 2004th in Poreč, where real estate deals
* What it means «golden hen»?
– I guess it is a hen which gives «golden eggs»! Translated to common language, it means that he would always give me exclusive informations which no other journalist in the country would have. Exactly, his informations could make me famous. We all journalists are vain. We all would like to be the first and best informed, but, thanks to God, I didn’t buy that trick with «golden eggs». If I did, today I wouldn’t probably talked about this, because Perković would hold me in his hand and only God knows what would I write about and what would I have to do in return. I’ m sure, in every case, that my conscious wouldn’ t be clear.
* Why did you, in spite of everything, decide to meet with Perković?
– In Globus, in number 412., from conversations with several mentioned sources, it means, persons who gave me the statement and one unnamed source, I wrote a text in which was seen that the trial to Vinko Sindičić for murder of Bruno Bušić, could become a farce, if in continuation of process, as witnesses were not called those who were not suggested by Vice Vukojević, and he operativly analyse, before coming on discussion with investigative judgeBožidar Jovanović, Josip Perković himself. For that text I also asked for statement from Perković, but the secretary in HIS told me that he didn’ t work there any more. Strange, but several days later, Perkovic gave a big biographic interview to a famous state journalist, Aleksa Crnjaković, where however turned out that he still worked in HIS. By careful reading of that interview, you can read out almost everything that bothered mister Perković. At the beginning of that conversation for Vjesnik, Perkovic announced that after the publishing of conversation, lots of foreign spies, will call, domestic betrayers and similars who are going to attack him, but nobody should pay attention to that. I was not considering myself as a foreign spy, nor a domestic betrayer, and since the investigative journalism in countries with normal journalist tradition include tracking of theme from the beginning till the end, I continued investigation of the Sindičić case. So I got an information that after Josip Majerski, the most known defector from former UDBA to the West, Croatian authority gave a wanted circular (APB). Considering that, for days, authorized in MUP (police) and in Ministry of external affairs, didn’ t answer whether the information was true or false, the story about APB, I also published in Globus. In the text I put the remark, that silence of autorized bodies could be put in connection with the fact that in MUP (police), on a high-ranked place was working the son of mister Perković (Saša Perković). I saw that information once even in your papers, actually, in your text. Nobody denyed, and I checked it in two more places. Actually, I didn’ t find it so important, but more interesting.
* In preparation for interview, you told me that your mentioning Perković’ s son to him, made him especially furious, and he resented that to you several times during the meeting in «Plitvička kuća».
– That’ s correct. Because, after I published that, I got a call from Zdravko Pejić and in fawn tone he told me that he was glad to hear, after such a long time, that Slavonian baritone, probably thinking on my voice. He gave me Perković’s request not to touch his son. He also told me that me and Perković are great professionals, and maybe it would be a good idea to meet each other at last. I told him that didn’ t mind, because I was constantly tring to get his statement, but that days I didn’ t have time because one business journey.
* You went in Budapest then on interview with Josip Majerski?
– You are right. Shortly after release of Globus, number 418, in which Majerski answers on Perković’s accusations in Vjesnik that he is a pedophile, that he never worked for UDBA, and that on trial to Sindičić in Scotland, was a private witness of Nikola Štedul, Zdravko Pejić called me and suggested a meeting with Perković. He told me that was high time for a meeting. I accepted, but as I already said, I took all the precautions.
Josip Majerski and Željko Peratović – Budapest 1998. Photo byHrvoje Dominić
* How was the atmosphere during your meeting? In your column in Globus you wrote, among other things, that Perković has threatened you with death in three times. You wrote that it was three times, that he pulled your arm…
– I don’ t want to retell all what I have already written in Globus. I knew that they would take all the precautions for themselves, and that they would do that better than me, because I didn’ t have their experience nor it was my job, nor I had at the disposal people and financial resources which was payed by Croatian taxpayers. The basic is that I’m dissapointed wit mister Perković as a professionalist.
– As he had nothing to blackmail me with, and he probably don’ t know to talk in other way, but to intimidate a man, at the very beginning of the conversation he threatened me with a gun. In the same time, he was insulting me as a journalist, actually, he was insulting the whole journalist profession, except Aleksa Crnjaković, who was the only one who wrote about him positively. He scolded me for I didn’ t investigate about him with journalists of older generation. Because of their sake I think it is better not to mention their names. He also claimed that there were no investigative journalism in our country. He was astonished when I on all his apologetic claims sharply rebuted. For example, he was especially hurt on my question did he felt responsible for the fact that was half true that our investigative journalism was still under question mark, even with well-meant part of public.
The shouting of top-grade intelligence agent
* Did you give any actually prooves for the accusation that Perkovic was guilty for that, in some way?
– I quoted to him only some parts from my journalistic first work, which is still in preparation, and its working title is «The history of different kinds of influences of intelligence services on Croatian medias since 1990. till 1998. year». I randomly gave him some of my perceptions about his connections with Slobodni tjednik of Marinko Božić , ST ekskluziv, Panorama… Then he started to defense himself. He confessed to me that he was seeing, but only once, with some journalists and editors. But it was – he said – only because of interviews or something completely harmless.
As I was giving contrariwise arguments, he was getting back to his complaints that I didn’ t think about him anything positive, and that was impossible to cooperate with me. He continued to shout that I was irresponsible. He asked me who would be responsible if something happened to me, during the conversation. I can’ t get rid of that surprise how one top-grade intelligence agent could allowed to himself to, more than half of our conversation, let other people at other tables hear. It was extremely important to me that among accidental witnesses were my friends. I was also dissapointed that Perković and his people didn’ t detected them on time. Did he think that he would also manage to intimidate them to give statements in court that they weren’ t that day at thePlitvička kuća? Or to claim that they have never heard for Plitvice?
* Have you ever in your carrier had conntacts with foreign intelligence services? Have they ever recruited you for cooperation?
– Now I’ m conntacting with you, and maybe you work for foreign services. I can’ t know that. Of course, I would never consciously work for such services. I’ m afraid that the people who proclaim us to be foreign hirelings, yet tomorrow can offer their services, if they didn’ t by now, to the future president of Croatia or some foreign intelligence service, if in probable changes on the political scene the new government wouldn’ t want them. Our professions are different in that, but they will never, I’ m afraid, realise that.
Josip Perković in the fall 2013th in the office of his lawyer Ante Nobilo
* Which are the discoveries in your future book that made Josip Perković so angry?
– I asked him if he knew M.B. from Imotski, the former bodyguard of Marinko Božić. I asked him if he was familiar with the fact that the person, who represented himself to the independent journalists as a trader of informations, and who was also my informer several times, one day appeared in German town Augsburg, presenting himself as a journalist of one papers in Zagreb, looking for Josip Majerski. So, I asked Perković was it known to him that M. B. very furious called me from Augsburg, halucinating about some murder, shooting in knees and so on… Perković only shouted that he has nothing to do with that. Then I asked him did he know that two Croatian functionaries – and I gave him their names and he has them on the tape of our conversation – one specific day ordered for a reward 200.000 DM, through one man from Mostar, Josip Majerski. Again he excitedly repeted that he had nothing to do with that. So, if he is an intelligence agent, if he is an official person, and if it is incompatible with his profession to give interviews, he could ask from me to give him my statement about probable felonies which are prepared. But, he didn’ t do that and by that he showed that he doesn’ t working his job professionaly, what dissapointed me more.
* Why did you called Perković in your column in Globus Croatian Edgar J. Hoover?
– I think he should be proud for that compliment. Maybe I continue to complement him, if in some further time is not discovered that there is one former Yugoslav intelligence agent, who belives to have stronger cards in his hands. To make short. It is known that Hoower was a chief of FBI through 40 the most controverse years of USA history in 20. century. On HTV, in American documentary films we can see that for him is said that he controled American presidents, made contracts with mafia… Hoower and Perković don’ t have to be similar by the contents of their work, but I presume that their methods of work are the same.
The big intelligence agent Perković has waved the pistol
Novi list, 23. december 1998.