Argentina should release editor accused of sedition

New York, December 18, 2013–Argentine authorities should immediately release a journalist who has been detained for more than a week and accused of sedition, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Juan Pablo Suárez, editor of the news website Ultima Hora, was arrested on December 9 in the northern province of Santiago del Estero, two hours after he had filmed the arrest of a local police officer, according to local reports. The officer, who was protesting for a salary increase, was attacked by police officers and pushed into a police vehicle, according to press reports. He is still in custody.

Sandra Wede, Suárez’s wife and owner of Ultima Hora, said that 40 police officers raided the outlet’s offices, seized notebooks, a computer, documents, and a camera, and arrested the journalist. Suárez’s lawyer told journalists that he had been detained solely for filming the police officer’s protest. The video was published on Ultima Hora.

“It is ludicrous that a journalist be accused of sedition and spend nine days in jail solely for filming a protest and arrest,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior Americas program coordinator. “We urge Argentine authorities to drop the absurd accusations against Juan Pablo Suárez and release him immediately.”

Gabriel Levinas, a reporter with Radio Mitre and editor of the news website Plazademayo, told CPJ that Suárez was accused of inciting society to chaos. According to Levinas, who had access to Suárez’s file, there was no evidence to support the allegations.

Last week, police conducted widespread strikes in several Argentine provinces, demanding a raise in salary, press reports said. The violence left at least 13 people dead.