CPJ Protests Terrorism Charges made Against Journalist

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December 16, 1998

His Excellency
Alberto Fujimori
President of the Republic of Peru
Lima, Peru

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to strongly condemn the jailing of radio journalist Johnny Eduardo Pezo Tello on charges of terrorism. Pezo was arrested after he read a letter sent by the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) on the air.

According to information provided by the Press and Society Institute (IPYS), Pezo, host of several news programs and a music show on radio station Double A (Doble A) in Yurimaguas, Loreto Department, received a phone call during his music show on November 17 from a man identifying himself as Comrade Rolando of the MRTA. The caller ordered Pezo to read a letter that the MRTA had sent to the radio station, and threatened to harm Pezo and his family if he refused. Pezo left the radio station, intending to report the threats to the police, but two men who were waiting outside the station cautioned him to heed the caller's order. After apologizing to the audience and declaring his opposition to MRTA's principles, Pezo read the press release on the air.

On November 19, officers from the National Anti-Terrorism Agency (DINCOTE) arrived at the radio station and took Pezo's statement. Pezo gave an additional statement the following day. On the basis of his testimony, the DINCOTE officers issued a statement in which they accused him of having justified terrorism. Pezo was taken before Provincial Attorney Marco Tulio Correa Sánchez, who confirmed the DINCOTE accusation and brought charges against him. On November 21, Yurimaguas Provincial Judge Hugo Zela found there was sufficient evidence to initiate proceedings against Pezo and ordered his arrest. Pezo was transferred from the police station where he had spent the night of November 20, to the Yurimaguas prison.

As an organization dedicated to the defense of press freedom around the world, CPJ condemns Pezo's arrest in the strongest possible terms. While we defend any journalist's right to free expression, the circumstances of the case make clear that Pezo was singled out by the MRTA because he is a journalist and forced to read a statement against his will. His detention is a clear abrogation of press freedom, a violation of international law, and a grave injustice that undermines international confidence in Peru's judicial insitutions.

Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director



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His Excellency
Alberto Fujimori
President of the Republic of Peru
Lima, Peru
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