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Reporter assaulted by SAAS officer while trying to photograph vice-president's luxurious vehicle

(APG/IFEX) - APG condemns the assault on "Siglo XXI" newspaper reporter Byron Barrera by an officer of the Secretariat for Administrative and Security Matters (Secretaría de Asuntos Administrativos y de Seguridad, SAAS), on the morning of 27 June 2008, when he attempted to photograph Vice President Rafael Espada's luxurious new armoured vehicle.

The incident, the second one involving SAAS officers in 2008, occurred in front of the presidential hangar on Hincarpié Avenue in the capital, Guatemala City, when Espada's delegation, which was departing for a plane trip to southern Guatemala, arrived.

According to Barrera, initially two agents wearing SAAS employee identification tags told him to leave the street, arguing that they had orders from the president to not allow journalists to be present. Barrera refused, since he was in a public area.

A third officer, who was not wearing an SAAS tag, immediately approached Barrera, insulted him, shoved him against the wall, assaulted him and grabbed his tape recorder and camera, which fell to the ground.

The journalist gathered up his work equipment and left, but was chased by the occupants of a grey pick-up truck with tinted windows.

Later the same day, Barrera filed complaints against the president and vice-president's offices with the Office of the Procurator for Human Rights (Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos) and the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público).

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