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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

FEBRUARY 14, 2003
Posted: January 29, 2004

Clara Britos, La Tapa

Three unidentified assailants threatened to kill Britos, owner and editorial director of the Guernica-based monthly La Tapa, in Buenos Aires Province. Britos was not injured, according to local press reports. During 2002, Britos had published information on alleged acts of corruption involving Guernica city officials.

Britos, who is 36, told CPJ that at 9:30 p.m. three unknown individuals stopped her near her house in Guernica, south of Buenos Aires Province. The attackers pushed her and insulted her. They later threatened to kill Britos and her sons.

Britos has been threatened a number of times since June 2002, according to CPJ sources. Following a story published on May 29, 2002, in which she denounced Guernica police forces for beating three teachers during a demonstration, Britos received anonymous menacing calls.

According to Britos, a vehicle has followed her from her home three times. In one of the incidents, the driver threatened Britos with death if she continued publishing information on alleged acts of corruption involving former Guernica Mayor Oscar RodrĖguez.

Britos believes that the threats are linked to articles published in La Tapa that have exposed corruption at the local council in Guernica. The publication reported that RodrĖguez, who now holds an important position in the State Intelligence Service, was allegedly involved in fraud and embezzlement.

Britos, who filed a complaint about the threats, has been under police protection since February 25.

FEBRUARY 21, 2003

Sergio Carreras, La Voz del Interior
La Voz del Interior

Carreras, an investigative reporter for the Córdoba City­based daily La Voz del Interior, was charged with criminal defamation by the wife of Córdoba Province Governor José Manuel De la Sota.

The charges stem from an investigation published in La Voz del Interior on July 24, 2002, in which Carreras reported irregularities in the local government's purchase of provincial bonds. According to the article, in November 2001, Olga Ritourt, wife of De la Sota and former provincial government secretary-general, secretly traveled to Chile on a private jet and tried to return with 50 million Argentine pesos (US$17 million) worth of bonds known as Lecor, which are issued by Córdoba Province and printed by the Chilean mint.

Carreras reported that the governor's wife was temporarily held in Chile for not declaring the content of her luggage to customs officials. Ritourt was carrying 10 pieces of luggage, each containing 100,000 bills of 50 Lecor.

On July 30, 2002, Ritourt and the governor denounced Carreras on the América TV television show "La Cornisa," according to local press reports. On August 6, Carreras published the second part of the investigation with more details on Ritourt's trip to Chile.

The case will be tried in a public hearing. Under Articles 109 and 117 of the Argentine Penal Code, Carreras faces up to one year in prison if convicted. Ritourt also charged La Voz del Interior for civil damages totaling 500,000 Argentine pesos (US$175,000).

FEBRUARY 25, 2003

Maximiliano García Solla, América TV
Julián Sequeira, América TV

García Solla and Sequeira, producer and cameraman for the biweekly television show "Puntodoc" on América TV, were attacked by Federal Police agents while covering street protests in the capital, Buenos Aires.

The incidents occurred at around 12 p.m., while police were evicting more than 100 people from a building that the municipal government had declared in danger of collapsing. According to local press reports, the journalists were reporting on the confrontation between the police and the tenants.

The police beat Sequeira, breaking his nose and fracturing two ribs, and seized his equipment. He was held at a local police station and later taken to the hospital for treatment. The security forces also punched and kicked producer García Solla, who was taken to the same police station and released several hours later. He faced charges for "resisting authority."

The journalists told CPJ that media professionals have often become targets while covering demonstrations, especially in Buenos Aires.

FEBRUARY 26, 2003

Norberto Ortiz, Crónica TV

Ortiz, anchor with the 24-hour cable news station Crónica TV, was attacked by police forces at around 11.30 a.m. while covering a demonstration in the capital, Buenos Aires.

While demonstrators were protesting outside the gates of a federal courthouse where four political activists of the leftist organization Quebracho were on trial for inciting violence during demonstrations eight years ago, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and masked protesters responded by throwing rocks and sticks.

Ortiz was hit by a rubber bullet and taken to the hospital for treatment before being released several hours later.

JUNE 9, 2003

Alejandro Goldín, Indymedia Argentina

Goldín, a photographer for Indymedia Argentina, an international alternative-media outlet, was attacked by Federal Police at around 5:30 p.m. while officers confronted a group of protesters at Brukman, a textile plant in the capital, Buenos Aires. According to local press reports, Goldín was covering the confrontation between police and the factory workers, who had continued to keep the plant operating after the owners abandoned it when the company went bankrupt.

Although Goldín identified himself as press and showed his credentials, the police tried to smash his equipment. Goldín was beaten on the head with a shotgun and shoved to the ground, where various officers kicked him repeatedly.

Goldín was taken to a hospital, where he received three stitches on his head and treatment for a swollen leg. He was released a few hours later. Indymedia Argentina filed a judicial complaint on June 10, and authorities continue to investigate the incident.