Peruvian news daily attacked; editor threatened

New York, March 9, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the attack on the Peruvian news daily Voces, which was hit with homemade explosive devices on Saturday. The daily’s editor recently received threats following critical reporting on a national congressional candidate, he told CPJ.

According to CPJ interviews and local press freedom groups, around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, three unknown assailants on motorcycles hurled three improvised firebombs into the paper’s offices in Tarapoto, in northern San Martín region. The bombs exploded in the building’s entrance, causing a fire that was quickly extinguished by Voces staff and neighbors. No one was injured in the blaze, but the building sustained material damages, Voces reported

One week prior to the attack, the paper’s editorial director, Lenin Quevedo, received a series of intimidating anonymous text messages on his mobile phone from an unknown sender, the journalist told CPJ. One said: “You’re putting the rope around your neck…Stay away from politics.”

Voces had recently published a series of articles on alleged misconduct by a national congressional candidate including illegal water usage. This story was also aired on a TV news program Quevedo hosts, “Reacción,” which deals with environmental and political issues. The candidate responded on a radio broadcast denying the allegation and accusing Quevedo of extortion, the Voces director said. Quevedo denied this allegation. 

On Monday, a representative of the National Police, which is investigating the attack, said it would provide Voces additional security.

“We are disturbed by the attack on Voces and urge local authorities to thoroughly investigate the cause behind it and bring those responsible to justice,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Journalists in Peru have a right to inform the public on issues of official corruption without fear of reprisal.”

Following the attack, Voces contracted a private security firm to guard the offices. Quevedo told CPJ that one of the paper’s security agents fired three times Sunday to scare off a group of five suspicious individuals who were close to the paper’s premises.