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Journalists prevented from covering prosecutor general's meeting with opposition politicians about a murder

(SPP/IFEX) - The SPP condemns the actions taken by the national prosecutor's office (Fiscalía General del Estado) and the National Police against Diana González, of "Última Hora" daily newspaper, and Eduardo Quintana, of the daily "ABC Color". The organization regards the actions as a violation of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

On 26 February 2008, a police officer working at the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público) detained the two journalists for approximately 10 minutes in the one of the building's elevators to prevent them from covering a meeting between the Prosecutor General Rubén Candia Amarilla and leaders of the Tekojoja movement, the Socialist Patriotic Alliance (Alianza Patriótica Socialista) and the Movement to Socialism Party (Partido del Movimiento al Socialismo, P-MAS). The meeting was to discuss the assassination of teacher Geraldino Rotela (a member of Tekojoja), which took place on 23 February in Kuarahy Resé, Caazapá department.

The police officer was carrying out orders to detain the journalists and other leaders of the political organizations in the elevator as evidenced by the command to "Stop them" heard over the officer's radio.

While González and Quintana were in the elevator, the meeting ended as the leaders of the organizations decided not to meet with the prosecutor general since he was denying journalists access to the meeting. Therefore, the journalists were unable to cover the event.

The censorship carried out by the authorities at the Public Ministry offices constitutes an attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press and the SPP will be reporting it to the appropriate authorities as well as to the international journalists' organizations with which the SPP is affiliated.

The SPP expresses its solidarity with González and Quintana and its concern about the proliferation of attacks on freedom of expression as well as the unsafe circumstances in which journalists are having to carry out their work. The organization calls on international groups to push for guarantees of appropriate working conditions for all media personnel in the country. Finally, the organization calls on all journalists in Paraguay to report any attacks or threats to which they are subjected, in order to strengthening the SPP and together put an end to such violations.

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