New York, July 30, 2022 — In response to news reports about the arrest of Guatemalan journalist and president of the elPeriódico newspaper José Rubén Zamora, the Committee to Protect Journalists released the following statement on Saturday:
“Guatemalan authorities should immediately release and drop any criminal charges against journalist José Rubén Zamora, president of elPeriódico,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Gypsy Guillén Kaiser in New York. “Judicial persecution against journalists is a mechanism of intimidation, and authorities in Guatemala need to put an end to their campaign to intimidate and threaten the press.”
Guatemalan police arrested Zamora on Friday, July 29, and raided the offices of elPeriódico, according to news reports. Zamora was arrested at his home in Guatemala City on charges including possible money laundering, blackmail and influence peddling, according to news reports citing the Guatemalan attorney general’s office.
The publication’s staff denounced the actions as retaliation for its previous reporting on President Alejandro Giammattei, as well as Attorney General Consuelo Porras.
In a video posted on social media on Saturday, July 30, Zamora says he would begin a hunger strike in protest of his arrest.
Last May, Guatemalan officials filed a criminal suit against three journalists from elPeriódico, including Zamora, under the violence against women law, as CPJ documented. Zamora was awarded CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 1995.
Update: On Monday, August 1, prosecutors ordered the seizure of elPeriódico’s bank accounts, and Zamora’s initial court hearing was suspended because the court did not receive necessary documents about the case, according to news reports. Zamora’s lawyers have not had access to documents detailing the charges against him, according to those same reports.