New York, May 15, 2023—In response to the announcement that the independent Guatemalan newspaper elPeriódico would cease online publication on Monday, May 15, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“The decision of the elPeriódico newspaper to cease publication is the result of the President Alejandro Giammattei administration’s judicial and financial harassment of the outlet’s founder, José Rubén Zamora, and its journalists for their critical reporting on corruption,” said Carlos Martínez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director. “The international community should send a clear message ahead of Guatemala’s upcoming presidential elections by demanding that Giammattei immediately release Zamora.”
Zamora, who has been in pre-trial detention since July 29, 2022, went to trial on May 2, 2023, on money laundering charges. Zamora and eight elPeriódico journalists and columnists are also under investigation for obstruction of justice based on their coverage of the legal proceedings. In April, a judge ordered the arrest of three lawyers defending Zamora.
ElPeriódico ended its print edition due to “political and economic pressure” in December 2022, but had continued to publish on its website.
“The closure of elPeriódico after 26 years of doing great journalism is devastating. The simple fact of doing journalism–investigating and denouncing corruption–must not be criminalized,” José Zamora, son of José Rubén Zamora, told CPJ by email. “One hundred [and] sixty-six exceptional professionals have lost their jobs, and 17 million citizens have lost an important source of information to them.”