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Reporter Alicia Ortega threatened after segment on alleged killer of journalist

A police officer closes the gate to the Palace of Justice prison, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 30 May 2017
A police officer closes the gate to the Palace of Justice prison, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 30 May 2017

ERIKA SANTELICES/AFP/Getty Images

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 4 April 2018.

The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on authorities in the Dominican Republic to investigate threats made against Alicia Ortega, an investigative reporter with the national news channel Noticias SIN, and to take all necessary steps to ensure the journalist's safety.

During the April 2, 2018 edition of Ortega's weekly show El Informe, the journalist said that her news station was informed that inmates in La Victoria prison made threats against her. The threats were in response to a segment aired on Ortega's show the previous week about Matías Avelino Castro, who is detained in La Victoria while he stands trial for allegedly ordering the murder of journalist José Agustín Silvestre, according to news reports.

National Attorney General Jean Rodríguez wrote on Twitter yesterday that his office was opening an investigation into the threats and would offer Ortega protective measures.

"We are encouraged by the Dominican authorities' response to the threats against Alicia Ortega and call on them to act swiftly to ensure the journalist's safety and to identify and hold accountable those responsible for the threats," said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna. "We applaud the Dominican Republic's steps in bringing the alleged mastermind in José Silvestre's murder to trial, but authorities must demonstrate that all threats to journalists will be taken seriously."

Silvestre, a magazine director and television host, was shot dead in August 2011, according to CPJ research. Police in 2011 identified Avelino Castro, a hotel owner and alleged drug trafficker, as the alleged mastermind and had him extradited from Colombia in January 2017 to face charges in the case, according to reports.

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