Serbia: whistleblower detained for revealing arms trade documents
A Serbian man has been arrested and placed under house arrest after releasing documents related to an arms transfer that ended up in the hands of the Islamic State, and implicated the father of Serbia’s interior minister in corrupt arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Aleksandar Obradovic was arrested on 18th September, but his arrest wasn’t made public until mid-October. He was arrested at his offices at the state-owned arms company Krusik Valjevo on suspicion of revealing trade secrets. The possible sentence under Article 240 of the Serbian criminal code is ten years in prison.
Obradovic released a cache of emails, contracts, memos, delivery schedules, photos and packing lists to the Arms Watch website, which appear to show 3 million mortar shells and rockets made in Serbia have been trafficked to Yemen and Syria over the last three years. According to Arms Watch, the weapons were originally bought by an American company called Alliant Techsystems LLC, exported by the Serbian state-owned company Jugoimport SDPR.
Other documents appear to support allegations that the company was selling weapons at a cut-down price to a privately owned company called GIM. The company involved is linked to Branko Stefanovic, the father of the country’s Interior Minister, and acts as an intermediary between Serbian and international companies. In 2018, BalkanInsight reported on documents that representatives, including Stefanovic, from GIM accompanied three Saudi arms buyers who were looking to buy mortars and long-range missiles on behalf of the Rinad Aljazira company,
Activists held protests outside the prison where Obradovic was being held. The Arms Watch website says that it came under distributed denial of service attacks after publishing the information from Obradovic.