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IAPA protests threats against journalist over reports on corruption

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, January 21, 2011 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed its repudiation of threats made against a journalist with the Nicaraguan newspaper El Nuevo Diario after he reported on alleged corruption in two government agencies. The IAPA called on the government of the Central American country to ensure the journalist's physical safety and to look into the content of the reports.

In an editorial on January 19 the newspaper said that one of its journalists had been threatened following the publication in recent weeks of reports "on proven acts of corruption in the Internal Revenue Office (DGI) and the Finance and Public Credit Ministry (MHCP)."

IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, declared, "We hope that the relevant authorities will ensure the journalist's personal safety, but that they also take the denunciations into account and investigate the reported corruption."

The newspaper said a reporter covering the Internal Revenue Office has received threatening phone calls and e-mail messages "warning him about the danger his personal safety runs for having had the nerve to publish."

The co-chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, editor of the Uruguayan weekly news magazine Búsqueda, lamented the fact that "the shortest route is always taken, going after those who expose corruption and not those who engage in it." He added that intimidation and threats used as a means of distracting attention from what is being denounced, corruption and nepotism, "constitute reprehensible actions against freedom of the press."

In the reports it was said that the head of the Internal Revenue Office, Walter Porras, hired his wife, Franca Aiello de Porras, as an advisor to the agency, used public funds to celebrate her birthday and contracted the services of a dental clinic owned by their son to treat the agency's employees, among other alleged actions.

The newspaper's editorial questioned why the relevant officials had not begun an investigation into the allegations.

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