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Canal 5 journalists harassed, prevented from attending governor's press conference

(FOPEA/IFEX) - On 11 May 2010, camera operator Fabio Guardone, of the Canal 5 TV station in Catamarca, was assaulted by the provincial governor's security guards. Moreover, journalist Axel Romero was prevented from attending a press conference by the governor, Eduardo Brizuela del Moral.

Romero, who also works for the online publication "Catamarca es Noticia", tried to ask Brizuela del Moral about comments made by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The governor said that he would respond in a little while. Three hours later, however, the journalist once again approached him with his questions and the governor responded, "We'll talk tomorrow." At the same time, Guardone was harassed and assaulted by the governor's bodyguards. Some government officials also tried to prevent him from filming the events by blocking his camera and trying to unplug his equipment. A video of the incident can be seen here: http://www.catamarcaesnoticia.com.ar/notas/2010-05-mayo/11/politica/politica_11_05_10_Clara-agresion-con-discriminacion.php

The subsecretary of Public Information, Horacio Boucard, subsequently invited the members of the press to come in to the press conference, with the exception of the two Canal 5 journalists. During the press conference, the governor reportedly addressed the question Romero had asked him.

That same night, Boucard's office issued a press release accusing Canal 5 of having "a hostile and confrontational attitude. It doesn't come here to look for information, it comes to cause a provocation. The governor's bodyguards did what they had to do under the circumstances." Brizuela del Moral added that Romero's question had had nothing to do with what was happening at the time.

Aldo Barros, director of Canal 5 and "Catamarca es Noticia", told FOPEA, "For the last three years, we have faced discrimination as regards receiving information from the government. This time we were not even allowed to attend the press conference." Barros said that the station was planning to file a complaint.

FOPEA urged the Catamarca Governor's Office to treat all media outlets equally and fairly. The organisation called for sanctions for those responsible for the assault on the Canal 5 camera operator.

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