|APRIL 27, 2004|
A judge investigating the March 24 bombing attack against the Brazilian Consulate in Santiago, Chile's capital, confiscated two computers of the online daily El Mostrador (www.elmostrador.cl) under Chile's anti-terrorist law.
Police investigators visited the office of the electronic newspaper and confiscated two computers belonging to Editor Lino Solís de Ovando Gutiérrez and reporter Jorge Molina Sanhueza, who covers judicial issues.
Shortly after the attack against the Brazilian consulate, El Mostrador received an e-mail message signed by a left-wing group called the Movement of the Revolutionary Left claiming responsibility for the bombing. A second message sent the next day denied any involvement of the group in the attack.
According to local press reports, Santiago Court of Appeals' Judge Gloria Ana Chevesich issued the order to analyze the content of the computers used by both journalists. After copying the content of the disks, the judge returned the computers on the same day, during the evening hours.
Lino Solís de Ovando Gutiérrez told CPJ that the police had checked the computers two weeks before the equipment was confiscated. The editor said that police had told them that they would be coming to El Mostrador to examine the computers on April 27. "We did not suspect that the equipment would de seized. We firmly believe that the judge violated the confidentiality of sources," said the editor.
July 26, 2004
Posted: September 3, 2004
Paulina de Allende-Salazar, Televisión Nacional de Chile
Marcelo Simonetti, Televisión Nacional de Chile
Emilio Sutherland, Channel 13
De Allende and Simonetti, reporters with Chilean state television Televisión Nacional De Chile (TVN), and Emilio Sutherland, a journalist for Channel 13 television, were charged with broadcasting images at private locations without permission of the people involved.
The charges, which were eventually overturned, came in the wake of a sex scandal that has roiled Chile for the past year.
In September 2003, Santiago businessman Claudio Spiniak was arrested and accused of leading a prostitution and pornography ring. Since then, the scandal has swirled around top politicians, prominent businessmen, police officers, and a Roman Catholic bishop, all allegedly involved in the ring. Spiniak has denied the allegations against him.
Judge Eleonora Domínguez charged the three journalists with violating Article 161-A of the Chilean Penal Code, which forbids recording and disseminating images at private locations without the consent of the individuals involved. Sutherland was accused of filming Spiniak’s arrest at his home, while De Allende and Simonetti were charged for airing images of a private party hosted by the accused businessman.
Judge Domínguez also charged De Allende and Simonetti with acquiring a stolen item—the camera used in the filming. De Allende said the allegation was false. “The images came from an individual who expressly asked us not to reveal their identity and we protected our source,” the journalist told CPJ.
De Allende and Simonetti were freed on bail. Four days later, on July 30, the three journalists filed an appeal seeking annulment on grounds of unconstitutionality. On August 10, Chile’s Ninth Chamber of the Santiago Court of Appeals revoked all charges.