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Journalist targeted by drug traffickers may have to move abroad

(RSF/IFEX) - 20 January 2012 - Brazilian police have alerted the Paraguayan journalist Cándido Figueredo, a correspondent for the daily ABC Color in the northern department of Amambay, that he is the target of an assassination plot hatched by traffickers active in the drug-producing region.

He was told of the plot by a special police unit in the neighbouring Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul that was set up to fight organized crime.

“Reporters Without Borders met Cándido Figueredo on a mission to Paraguay last year,” the press freedom organization said. “He has established himself as one of the best reporters on the drug trade, which clearly exposes him to serious risk. Reporters Without Borders hopes his request to leave the region, perhaps even the country, for a period of time can be granted. His exile, however, would not absolve the Paraguayan and Brazilian authorities of their responsibility to track down those behind the murder plot as soon as possible.”

Brazilian intelligence personnel are trying to pin down the identity and whereabouts of the person behind an intercepted phone call that led to the discovery of the murder plot.

Figueredo told RSF he has no doubt who is behind the threat since he reported in his newspaper on the destruction of two underground routes used to smuggle marijuana and cocaine into Brazil and Bolivia.

His home has been attacked twice and Figueredo now does not venture out without an armed escort.

“Since the warnings from the Brazilian police, my bodyguards have been more vigilant and my wife and I restrict our movements away from our office as much as possible,” he said.

Four police officers take turns guarding the journalist, which he believes is a necessary but insufficient measure. He is hoping to leave Amambay for a period of time to seek shelter abroad.

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