May 26, 2000
His Excellency Alberto K. Fujimori
President of the Republic of Peru
VIA FACSIMILE: 011-51-1-427-6722 / 426-6535
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is deeply disturbed by the kidnapping and torture of journalist Fabián Salazar Olivares. Salazar was attacked and brutally tortured on May 24, just after receiving materials with allegedly damaging information about high-level officials from Your Excellency's administration, according to statements that Salazar has made to the press in Peru.
Salazar, a former executive at the television station Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2, and currently a columnist with the Lima-based daily La República, believes the people who attacked and tortured him were government agents. He said he has been under constant surveillance and has been receiving threats for two years.
On May 24, according to Salazar's testimony, he received five videos, three diskettes, and a folder from a source close to the National Intelligence Service (SIN). The videos show Vladimiro Montesinos, a close adviser to Your Excellency and head of the SIN, meeting with the heads of the National Elections Jury (JNE) and the National Electoral Processes Office (ONPE).
The folder also contained documents handwritten by Montesinos, and a notebook with information compiled since 1996 on Baruch Ivcher. In 1997, Ivcher, who was born in Israel, was stripped of his Peruvian citizenship, and, as a result, also of his right to own television station Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2. The action against Ivcher took place after the television station aired damaging investigative reports about the SIN.
After receiving the information, Salazar called his secretary from his office using his cell phone and asked her to accompany him to the offices of the election observer team of the Organization of American States.
Within ten minutes of the call, at around 7 p.m., a man knocked on the door of his office in downtown Lima, identifying himself as a SUNAT (National Division of Tax Administration) worker. When Salazar opened the door, the man and three accomplices forced him to sit on a chair. They wrapped adhesive tape around his mouth, his eyes, and his feet, and beat him. Then, they interrogated him, demanding that he disclose the source of his material. To make him speak, they cut his wrist with a saw down to the bone. During the attack the assailants spoke to people over a radio.
At some point the attackers fled, apparently because the building security had called for help. Before fleeing though, they tore up the office and set it on fire. Salazar was able to crawl out of his office and escape the flames, which were put out by firemen. Once in the medical clinic, the journalist was taken to the emergency room and underwent surgery. He is now recovering successfully. Before the attack took place, Salazar was able to review two of the five videos.
CPJ's sources in Peru have attested to the credibility of Salazar's account. Further bolstering the credibility is the fact that CPJ has previously documented government involvement in a systematic campaign to discredit and intimidate independent journalists in Peru. We call on Your Excellency to conduct a full investigation into the attack, and to ensure that the perpetrators are punished to the full extent of the law.
Ann K. Cooper