Polish police detain former TV station owner Baruch Ichver at Peru’s request

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PERU: Polish police detain former TV station owner Baruch Ivcher at Peru’s request (Posted June 29, 2000)

New York, June 29, 2000 — On Wednesday, Polish police detained Baruch Ivcher, former owner of the Lima-based TV station Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2, for approximately five hours at Warsaw International Airport. The Peruvian government has long sought Ivcher’s arrest through international channels.

Ivcher had been invited to participate in the World Forum on Democracy, an event held in the Polish capital and organized by Freedom House and the Stefan Batory Foundation. When he arrived at the airport, local police detained him because Peruvian authorities had submitted his name to Interpol, requesting his arrest and extradition.

Before being detained, Ivcher had met with a delegation headed by former Peruvian presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo, who was also invited to the World Forum on Democracy. Toledo’s delegation quickly publicized the arrest, and called for Ivcher’s release. Intense efforts by the international community ended his five-hour detention.

While the Peruvian government has called Ivcher’s detention a “publicity stunt” engineered by the Toledo-led opposition, on June 26 the Polish Embassy at Lima issued a press communiqué confirming Ivcher’s temporary detention at Warsaw International Airport.

In 1997, Ivcher, an Israeli immigrant who had become a naturalized Peruvian, was stripped of his citizenship, and, as a result, of his right to own a television station, after Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2 aired a series of damaging investigative reports about the Fujimori government. The Ivcher case was among several complaints that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States heard in 1999. The Peruvian government responded by taking the unprecedented step of withdrawing from the court’s jurisdiction.

Coincidentally, Ivcher was detained shortly before the arrival in Lima of a high-level OAS mission, led by Secretary General César Gaviria and Canadian foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy, which will explore ways to strengthen democracy in Peru.

CPJ, which has documented widespread press freedom violations in Peru during Fujimori’s ten years in power, recently placed the president on its list of the Ten Worst Enemies of the Press for the second consecutive year.