Security forces are seen in San Salvador, El Salvador, on April 29, 2020. Unidentified individuals recenty broke into journalist Julia Gavarrete's home and stole her laptop. (Reuters/Jose Cabezas)

Journalist Julia Gavarrete’s home robbed, laptop stolen in El Salvador

On July 2, 2020, between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., unidentified individuals broke into journalist Julia Gavarrete’s home in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, and stole her laptop, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

Gavarrete, a reporter for the independent news website Gato Encerrado, told CPJ she returned home at about 6:30 p.m. after covering a press conference at the Presidential House, and found the door to her bedroom open, her belongings out of place, and her laptop and several personal items missing.

“They were after the computer because they didn’t take anything else of value. They even left my wallet with all my cards and money on the same table,” said Gavarrete. “Besides my work equipment, they took some imitation jewelry and a pair of shoes. I find it very strange.”

She told CPJ she believed the robbery was an attempt to intimidate her in response to her critical reporting. Gavarrete told CPJ that she had recently reported on President Nayib Bukele’s coronavirus response plans, and allegations of mismanagement and corruption.

“I have worked on issues that are inconvenient for the current government, and I have made several requests for public information that they have not responded to. I feel like it’s a threat,” the journalist told CPJ.

Gavarrete said that the police came to her house and filed a report in the evening of July 2. She also filed a complaint to the Human Rights Institute of the Central American University, a local rights group, which reported the crime to the Salvadoran attorney general’s office, according to reports.

A representative of the attorney general’s office told CPJ in an email that information related to the case could not be made public.

CPJ sent a text message to the Salvadoran police, who replied that information on the case should be requested through the police Public Information Unit. CPJ emailed that unit for comment but did not receive any reply.