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Director of CERIGUA warns of possible actions against the organisation

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - CERIGUA's director, Ileana Alamilla, has warned of several incidents that the organisation has taken note of that could be part of a plan to undermine freedom of expression.

Alamilla said that, at the beginning of February 2009, the CERIGUA website was hacked into, though personnel within the organisation were able to recover the site immediately. In 2007 and 2008, the organisation's website was blocked on three separate occasions.

On 24 February, Alamilla's personal e-mail account was hacked into and, as a result, a message was released, written in English and appearing to originate in an African country. In the phoney message, Alamilla asked for monetary assistance from all of her contacts, saying that she was at an AIDS event and had lost her return travel ticket.

A few days later, on 28 February, several individuals who called the CERIGUA offices said that they heard the call go through, but nobody answered. They then heard strange sounds and, finally, CERIGUA personnel picked up the call.

Finally, on 1 March, while CERIGUA staff were conducting a workshop with the organisation's correspondents, they received a telephone call from someone who said she was a French journalist but would not give her name. In an arrogant manner, the caller demanded information about allegations of threats having been made by a group of drug traffickers against Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom and said she needed a list of reporters and correspondents, with telephone numbers and addresses, who could help her investigate the issue.

Alamilla noted that a CERIGUA reporter, José Pelicó received threats on several occasions in 2008. As a result the Inter-American Court of Human Rights called for Pelicó to be afforded protective measures.

CERIGUA works on a number of different topics at the national level, including freedom of expression and women's, indigenous, mining and agrarian issues, among others.

Alamilla coordinates CERIGUA's Journalists' Observatory and writes a column two times per week in the daily "Prensa Libre". She has received praise in response to her column as well as insults from individuals who feel they have been alluded to.

For further information on the Pelicó case, see:

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