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Security agent uses excessive force to impede journalists from approaching president

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - On 15 April 2008, journalists Ricardo Quinto, of the newspaper "elPeriódico", Henry Morales, of Radio Sonora, and Jaime Montenegro, of Radio Punto, were assaulted by an agent of the state security services (Secretaria de Asuntos Administrativos y de Seguridad, SAAS). The incident occurred when the security agent used physical force to prevent the journalists from approaching President Álvaro Colom, which led to a scuffle and fisticuffs. It took place in the National Palace of Culture in the nation's capital.

According to a report in the newspaper "Prensa Libre", while two reporters were interviewing the president, the security agent began blocking other journalists trying to approach the president. The agent's use of force continued even after the president's departure from the scene.

Ronaldo Robles, the president's press secretary, acknowledged that the agent had used excessive force and promised to work to ensure that press access to the president would be more orderly in the future.

Radio Punto director Óscar Lezzer condemned the incident and called on Robles to educate the head of the SASS and the president about the importance of press freedom.

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