Journalist José Rubén Zamora arrives handcuffed at the Palace of Justice in Guatemala City on June 14, 2023. (Johan Ordonez/AFP)

Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora sentenced to 6 years in prison

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After more than a year on trial, José Rubén Zamora, president of Guatemalan newspaper elPeriódico, was convicted of money laundering and acquitted on blackmail and influence peddling charges on Wednesday. He was sentenced to a six-year prison term and a fine.

Zamora has been in pretrial detention since July 29, 2022, and has also been recently charged with allegedly using false documents.

“The shameful conviction and imprisonment of Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora serve as a stark testament to the erosion of freedom of speech in the country and the desperate attempts of President Alejandro Giammattei’s government to criminalize journalism,” said Carlos Martínez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director. “[Zamora’s] only ‘crime’ has been the fearless exercise of his profession.”

🔖 Read Martínez de la Serna’s op-ed in El Faro (in Spanish)

Global press freedom updates

  • Israel Defense Forces shoot two Palestinian photojournalists with rubber bullets
  • Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani detained on undisclosed charges
  • Nicaraguan journalist Victor Ticay convicted on treason, false news charges
  • Governor of DRC’s Equateur province defies court order allowing Radio Télévision Sarah to reopen
  • Liberia’s FrontPageAfrica summoned to defend bribery report or face contempt of court
  • South African court prohibits former president’s private prosecution of journalist Karyn Maughan
  • Ukraine journalists say opaque accreditation process hampers war coverage
  • European Parliament adopts resolution calling on Hong Kong authorities to drop charges against and release Jimmy Lai
  • CPJ concerned by India Law Commission’s recommendation to expand sedition law


India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in Sydney, Australia, in May 2023. (AP Photo/Dean Lewins)

Ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States and meeting with President Joe Biden, CPJ urged the U.S. government to press for an end to India’s media crackdown and for the release of six journalists arbitrarily detained in retaliation for their work.

During a virtual panel discussion with leading Indian journalists convened by CPJ, speakers explained the deterioration of press freedom since Modi came to power in 2014.

Geeta Seshu, founding editor of the Free Speech Collective watchdog group, detailed the rise in censorship and “vicious” attacks on the media, while Shahina K.K., senior editor for Outlook magazine, shared her ongoing battle to fight terrorism charges filed nearly 13 years ago. Meanwhile, Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of the Kashmir Times newspaper, spoke about the “effective silence” Kashmiri journalists have dealt with since Jammu and Kashmir’s special autonomy status was revoked in 2019.

Watch a recording of the discussion and read more about press freedom violations in India.

What we are reading (and listening to)

So far in 2023…

At least eight journalists and media workers have been killed in relation to their work. Explore our database of attacks on the press and apply filters to examine trends.

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