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Woman journalist harassed by police, fined after exposing prostitution ring

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF condemns the police and judicial harassment of independent journalist Claudia Acuña, which began on 11 July 2007 after she revealed the existence of a Buenos Aires prostitution ring controlled by certain authorities by means of threats. The founder of the online news agency La Vaca and the affiliated "MU" newspaper, Acuña has already been fined 3,000 pesos (700 euros).

"It is curious that, when a case like this is exposed, the authorities target the journalist instead of investigating the allegations," RSF said. "Have Acuña's revelations ruffled so many feathers? Apparently so, to judge from the outrageous treatment she has received at the hands of the police and judicial authorities."

RSF added: "There is still time to right these wrongs by putting an end to the harassment of Acuña and by investigating the serious allegations she has made."

Since 11 July, Acuña has noticed that police officers attached to Buenos Aires police station No. 10 are systematically checking the identity of everyone trying visit her home. Asked why they are doing this, the police said they were acting on the orders of a local prosecutor's office (Número 3 Fiscalía Contravencional), although Acuña maintains she has never been summoned by the prosecutor's office.

Acuña believes the surveillance is linked to her recent investigative reporting into prostitution in Buenos Aires, including her book "Ninguna mujer nace para puta" (No woman is born to be a whore), which denounces the sexual exploitation of women and their harassment by police, judicial authorities and politicians.

Acuña is being sued over her allegations and the case is due to be heard soon. The 3,000-peso fine was the result of her activism on behalf of prostitutes, carried out with intellectuals and artists.

The prosecutor's office that allegedly gave the surveillance order has refused requests from Acuña's lawyers to rescind it or to explain why it was issued.

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