(FOPEA/IFEX) - 28 June 2011 - The Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA) condemns the attacks and threats against journalist Mario Sánchez, based in the community of Centenario, 15 km. north of the city of Neuquén, in southwestern Argentina. There are concerns for his safety and that of his family. The journalist's home was robbed and set on fire and days later assailants threw bottles containing a flammable liquid into his patio. In addition, the journalist has received threatening telephone calls and a message that contained a death threat.
For more than 10 years, Sánchez has been working for the Sayhueque (88.7mhz) municipal radio station and as a Centenario-based correspondent for the AM LU5 radio station. He is also a member of the Neuquén Press Association. While the journalist has not given any indication as to who may be behind the threats, it is suspected that they are linked to his profession.
FOPEA urges the provincial and local authorities to take swift action and ensure that Sánchez and his family are protected. It also calls for a prompt and extensive investigation so that those behind the attacks and the threats are identified.
On Sunday 19 June, unknown individuals broke into the journalist's home, seized some documents and items related to his work and lit a fire. The police ascertained that robbery was not the likely motive for the attack.
Subsequently, on two different occasions, in what appeared to be an intimidation attempt, bottles containing flammable liquids were thrown into the patio and on the roof of the journalist's home and that of his neighbour.
On 25 June, a brick was thrown into the journalist's patio. It was wrapped in a note that said, "whoever attacks the MPN, will die". The message included a photograph of Neuquén Governor Jorge Augusto Sapag, of the Neuquén Popular Movement (Movimiento Popular Neuquino, MPN).
Finally, in the last few days Sánchez has been receiving a number of phone calls but the caller has been hanging up as soon as he answers.
(Please note this is an abridged translation).