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Two online media outlets suffer break-in at shared office in Buenos Aires

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 22 December 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the recent break-in at the shared office of two online media outlets, Revista Anfibia and Cosecha Roja, in Buenos Aires, in which a computer and a notebook containing sensitive information were stolen, and furniture and other equipment were badly damaged.

Journalists at Revista Anfibia and Cosecha Roja discovered that the attack had taken place during the previous weekend when they went to work on the morning of Monday, 12 December. The intruders also took a projector, a voice recorder and cash from a petty-cash box, as well as the computer and notebook.

Cosecha Roja is a news website specializing in covering corruption, abuse of authority and the activities of drug traffickers, while Revista Anfibia is well known for lengthy analytical articles that mix investigative journalism and academic research.

Revista Anfibia editor Martin Alé told RSF that they had never received threats. “We are not into paranoia but we are not naive either,” he said. “Of the 20 offices in this building, it was the one with two media outlets that was targeted. This was an act of theft and an act of vandalism.”

The office is also often used for holding workshops, seminars and other activities open to the public on journalism-related subjects. A complaint has been filed with Buenos Aires federal court No. 10.

“We condemn this attack on the premises of Cosecha Roja and Revista Anfibia,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF's Latin America desk. “The police and judicial authorities must investigate it thoroughly and not neglect the possibility that it was linked to their journalistic activities.

“The destruction and theft of equipment and information belonging to media outlets constitute a grave violation of free speech rights. The authorities must crack down firmly on such violations, which are only too common in Argentina, and must prosecute those responsible.”

Around 20 intruders attacked and badly damaged most of the installations and equipment of the Buenos Aires-based daily El Tiempo Argentino on 4 July with the aim of expelling the journalists' cooperative that was running the newspaper.

RSF is also concerned about the lawsuit that Emiliano Yacobitti, the financial director of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) and one of the leaders of the UCR party, brought against Alejandro Bercovich, the co-presenter of a programme on the TV news channel C5N and columnist for the BAE daily newspaper, on 13 December. Yacobitti is seeking 75,000 pesos (4,500 euros) in damages because Bercovich used Twitter to report the existence of allegations of a network of corruption within UBA and the Clinicas Hospital in which Yacobitti was supposedly involved. Bercovich told RSF that he just did his job as a journalist by reporting information in the public domain about a public personality. The lawsuit has all the hallmarks of an attempt to use the courts to suppress coverage of alleged corruption.

Argentina is ranked 54th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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