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FOPEA condemns threats made towards journalists in Córdoba

(FOPEA/IFEX) - FOPEA condemns threats and intimidations made towards journalists Guillermo Bahr, Juan Federico and Tomás Méndez and calls on local authorities to protect them and their families and to thoroughly investigate these incidents.

Journalists Juan Federico, of the newspaper "La Voz del Interior"; Tomás Méndez, presenter of the programme "ADN", broadcast by Canal 10; and his producer Guillermo Bahr reported they were threatened and intimidated on April 6 and 7, 2010, in connection with their respective coverage of drug sales in the city of Córdoba.

Méndez told FOPEA that on 6 April, around 7:30 p.m., his father was followed by two men as he was on his way home. One of them put a gun to his back and told him to be quiet: "Don't talk about this anymore or we'll shut you up."

Bahr said that on 6 April he received a phone call from a private number. The caller said, "Don't get involved. You and Tomás Méndez are dead meat." Around 2:00 a.m. on the morning of 7 April, Bahr saw someone on the roof of his house and called the police. He considered this incident to be retaliation for his journalistic investigations.

On 5 April Federico had published a piece in "La Voz del Interior", where he referred to testimony in which the mother of a three-year-old girl who had recently been killed was implicated in drug trafficking.

Mendez, his father, Federico and Bahr filed a report about the threats, which are now under investigation by prosecutor Raúl Garzón. The Córdoba attorney general met with the victims and contacted the Córdoba chief of police, who offered the journalists guarantees of safety.

The government minister for Córdoba, Carlos Caserio, told FOPEA that he had been in contact with "La Voz del Interior" and Canal 10 authorities to analyse the case.

"We have done what needs to be done. We asked that they make the official complaint before going to the public, and that was done. We want an investigation. We want the people who made these threats to be imprisoned."

FOPEA is concerned by these threats and calls for a quick and effective explanation of what happened. It considers these repeated offences to be a risk to the professional work of journalists that discourages them from investigating crimes related to drug trafficking.

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