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Photographer receives death threats after photographing pro-government groups; governor accuses newspaper of taking money in exchange for publishing false information

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 31 October 2008, Pedro Laguna, a photographer for the "La Razón" newspaper, received four text messages with death threats against him and his family, warning him to stop taking pictures of the "collision groups" that support President Evo Morales.

The messages were sent two days after the photographer covered the assaults suffered by several journalists in La Paz's San Pedro square, where a group of demonstrators that support the government struck and hurled insults at several reporters, in addition to stealing the voice recorder of ERBOL radio network journalist Jonnatan Condori.

Laguna does not know who is sending the threatening messages, although he suspects that the individuals he photographed assaulting the journalists on 29 October must be behind them. According to "La Razón" editor Juan Carlos Rocha, the newspaper decided to file a complaint with the authorities and request an investigation into the threats.

On 29 October, "La Razón" published a report identifying Edgar Mora, the self-proclaimed president of the pro-government Popular Civic Committee, as the leader and instigator of the attacks on the press.

Laguna and "La Razón"'s attorneys have filed their complaint with prosecutor Virginia Crespo, who is also investigating a rape threat received by a reporter working for the same newspaper in March. The person behind the rape threat was Adolfo Cerrudo, another Popular Civic Committee member.
In a separate incident, on 12 November, Savina Cuellar, the governor of the central Bolivian department of Chuquisaca, accused the "Correo del Sur" newspaper of publishing false information. Cuellar made the accusation after the newspaper published a report stating that Jaime Barrón, the rector of San Francisco Xavier University and the president of the Inter-Institutional Committee, refused to campaign for the new Constitution that is being promoted by the ruling party.

In both a press conference and in statements made directly to "Correo del Sur", the governor insinuated that the newspaper took money in exchange for publishing false information.

Marco Dipp, the editor of "Correo del Sur", told the National Press Association (Asociación Nacional de la Prensa, ANP) of Bolivia that the information published by his newspaper is based on tape recordings and said that he was disappointed by the governor's assertions, pointing out that they could be attributed to the authority's lack of information.

The ANP expressed its solidarity with the media outlet.

This alert has been prepared by IPYS with information provided by the ANP.

For further information on the 29 October assaults on journalists, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98118

For further information on the threat received by a "La Razón journalist in March, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95775

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