New York, March 17, 2000 — CPJ is deeply concerned by the legal action currently being brought against the Lima-based newspaper, El Comercio, which threatens to transfer ownership of the paper to its minority shareholders.

El Comercio is charged with the misuse of government-provided funds. The paper is also being sued by its former general manager, Luís García Miró. Six years after selling his shares in the company, García contends that he was forced to do so against his will and is suing the paper for US$20 million.

Both actions came shortly after El Comercio published a February 29 exposé accusing members of President Alberto K. Fujimori’s party, Perú 2000, of forging over one million signatures that were required to register Fujimori as a candidate in the April 9 general election.

Under the leadership of its editor, Alejandro Miró Quesada, El Comercio has been one of only a few voices critical of the Fujimori government. The minority shareholders who will take over control of the paper if the legal action succeeds are supporters of the current government.