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Patagonian radio station vandalised

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA condemns the theft and property damage that took place during an attack on Radio FM Arco Iris in Loncopué, in the province of Neuquén, on 9 January 2010. The attack marks the third such incident against the radio station in less than a year.

According to journalist and station owner Norberto Guerrero, the attack took place after the radio station aired a Loncopué community group's complaints against the municipal and provincial government regarding mining issues in the region.

In a report filed with the police, Guerrero named Carlos "Nuno" Sapag, brother of the provincial governor, as one of the suspects in the attack. FOPEA tried to contact Sapag for comment on his version of the events but was unable to reach him. The prosecutor in charge of the investigation did not provide FOPEA with any further information about the case.

FM Arco Iris's transmission centre is located on land that belongs to the governor's brother.

In December 2009, one of Sapag's employees ordered Guerrero to remove the radio station's antenna from his land within 24 hours. Guerrero refused, noting that he had received permission from the municipality to use the location. However, two days later the local police notified Guerrero that, following a request from one of Sapag's representatives, he had 48 hours within which to remove the station's equipment. At the same time, a request was issued to the provincial electricity company to stop providing power to the station.

FOPEA calls on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the matter and to ensure that freedom of expression and the right of citizens to access information is protected.

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