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Journalist threatened for publishing article on arms theft

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - Luis Ángel Sas, a journalist for the daily "elPeriódico", has been receiving death threats that make reference to an article he wrote about stolen weapons from the army that ended up in the hands of the Los Zetas crime group in Guatemala.

According to the journalist, the threats began on 16 November 2010, when the newspaper received a telephone call in which an unidentified caller asked to speak to Sas. The caller said that he had information and evidence about a drug-trafficking group because he had seen an article by Sas entitled, "Cobán: The drug-trafficking capital of Guatemala".

"The man insisted on meeting with me, he said it was urgent and then he hung up," Sas said. Later that same day, another call came in which the caller asked if Sas had returned from Panama. The caller then said, "Tell him he's going to die if he keeps talking to Mr. Galindo."

Sas told his editor and the newspaper's director, Juan Luis Font, about the threats. They then contacted the Prosecutor's Office. On 17 November Sas flew to Panamá for a conference on drug-trafficking and journalism. While he was out of the country, a person claiming to be from the army, and who said his name was Carlos Enrique García, contacted "elPeriódico" and said that Sas had charged 8,000 quetzales (approx. US$1,000) for every meeting he had with "Mr. Galindo".

According to Sas, Moisés Galindo is the military lawyer who provided information on the theft of weapons, explosives and munitions belonging to the army that ended up in the hands of the Los Zetas group. "I carried out the investigation and I spoke to Mr. Galindo about this issue," the reporter said.

The Guatemalan Chamber of Journalism (Cámara Guatemalteca de Periodismo) condemned the threats against Sas and called on the Prosecutor's Office to conduct an investigation.

Sas usually covers issues relating to drug-trafficking, corruption, impunity, security and justice for "elPeriódico".

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