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Journalist threatened with legal action by Pilar appeals court member after critical article

(SPP/IFEX) - Rubén Franco, a member of the Appeals Court of the city of Pilar (Cámara de Apelaciones del Poder Judicial de Pilar), has threatened Mauricio Acosta, a journalist with the Pilar-based newspaper "Ultima Hora", with legal action after the latter published articles that quoted social activists criticising the judiciary.

The Executive Committee of the SPP condemns this latest harassment of a journalist by state authorities, as an attempt to limit freedom of expression.

Years ago, a number of popular organisations in Pilar, grouped together as "Citizens in Action" ("Ciudadanos en Acción") asked the Supreme Court to investigate alleged irregularities in the judicial district of Ñeembucú. According to the organizations involved, the Supreme Court acknowledged the existence of irregularities, but dismissed them as "irrelevant". Franco, a member of the district court of appeals implicated, sued eight members of the organizations that had filed the request, asking for compensation for supposed "moral damages" amounting to500 million guaranis (approx. US$98,000).

Subsequently, in a public meeting convened by Citizens in Action, many sharp criticisms were made of the judiciary in Pilar. In his report on the event, Acosta faithfully reflected the critical content of the discussion.

Franco is attempting to intimidate Acosta for the article and to frighten him into not writing any more on the issues of corruption and poor administration in Pilar's court system.

SPP expresses its solidarity with Mauricio Acosta and condemns this attempt to violate his rights as a journalist.

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