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Argentinian journalist receives threats over his reporting

(FOPEA/IFEX) - 23 November 2012 - FOPEA (Foro de Periodismo Argentino) stands with journalist Daniel Polaczinski, a, FM Radio U journalist in Aristóbulo del Valle, Misiones, who is being continuously threatened via messages to his mobile phone. Many of the threats are anonymous, but one of the numbers that threats have been sent from belongs to the head of the local municipal council, Luis Daniel Kochen.

The first threats questioned why Polaczinski was not reporting on the Misiones province governor, Maurice Closs. The threats escalated after a report on the province was aired on Canal 13.

On 15 October, Polaczinski reported on his programme that Kochen was responsible for a traffic accident the day before when the councillor, presumably drunk, got out of his car and threatened the driver of another vehicle with a machete. The journalist interviewed that driver on air and an infuriated Kochen called in. Polaczinski continued to report on the incident even as threats worsened and extended to his family. On 18 October he received a call from Kochen, who told him, “If you keep going on about that accident, you'll be killed”.

The journalist then filed a complaint with the police. The case has now been referred to Judge Horacio Alarcón in the city of Oberá.

After Kochen heard about Polaczinski's complaint he showed up at the journalist's home and told him to drop the case, but Polaczinski refused. He showed Kochen the threatening message he had received and the councillor denied writing it and said someone else must have used his phone to send it.

Kochen took a leave of absence after the local council decided to investigate the threats and accusations.

Polaczkinski decided to suspend the broadcasting of his programme because of the continued threats and concerns for his family. FOPEA negotiated police protection from the provincial police for the journalist and his home.

Nevertheless, during the week of 19 November the threats continued. Polaczinzki was warned that "something would happen" during his son's baptism and he was asked what school he was sending his son to, as he was leaving a nursery school where he had just enrolled his child.

FOPEA calls on provincial and municipal authorities to urgently intervene in this case, and to guarantee continued protection for Daniel Polaczkinski and his family, as well as true freedom of expression in Aristóbulo del Valle.

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