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Amambay governor assaults critical photojournalist; Asunción municipal security guards beat, detain two newspaper journalists

(SPP/IFEX) - The SPP condemns several recent acts of verbal and physical aggression perpetrated against several journalists in Amambay, a department in Paraguay's northeast, and in Asunción, the country's capital.

On 3 August 2007, photojournalist Fernando Torres was verbally and physically attacked by Amambay governor Robert Acevedo. Torres works with the weekly "Vigilante" and the magazine "Integración Norteña".

Governor Acevedo has also recently harassed Frontera Multicanal television station cameraperson Raúl Ortiz in a similar fashion. He has also made serious and unfounded accusations against "ABC Color" correspondent Cándido Figueredo, alleging that the journalist had been "bought off" by drug traffickers operating around Pedro Juan Caballero, the capital of the Amambay department, where the journalist works.

The SPP condemns Governor Acevedo's contempt for press freedom and the right to freedom to expression. It appears that, from his lofty political position, the governor wishes to silence any voices that dare to criticize his administration.

In a separate incident, on 6 August journalists Esteban Acevedo and Fernando Calistro, both with the newspaper "Ultima Hora", were beaten and detained by two guards employed by the municipality of Asunción, Paraguay's capital.

The journalists had gone to the Asunción city hall offices to follow-up on previous reports on sub-standard services provided to the public. When Calistro began to take photographs showing that eight of nine booths in the Taxation Office were closed at 7:45 a.m. (local time), the guards on duty set upon him and demanded to see his press credentials.

Calistro complied, but the guards immediately tried to seize his camera, setting off a tussle. In the process, Calisto was struck by the guards. When Acevedo tried to intervene, the guards assaulted and overpowered him as well, and locked both journalists in a security office. During the entire incident, given that the guards were carrying high-caliber firearms, the journalists feared that they might even be shot.

The SPP urges the authorities to investigate both incidents and to punish those responsible.

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