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Newspaper editor's telephone tapped; police detain reporters for more than four hours

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 6 April 2008, "El Comercio" newspaper announced that the phone of journalist and political editor Juan Paredes Castro had been tapped through the use of a device installed 400 meters away from his house.

The transmitting-receiving apparatus was found after the newspaper's security services made an electronic sweep of the staff's telephone lines as a precautionary measure. The security team was not able to ascertain how the device worked or who was listening to the telephone conversations.

During a press conference, Paredes Castro said that after the announcement he received calls from President Alan García, the defense minister and the home secretary, who assured him that a thorough investigation would be launched.

IPYS issued the following statement, which was signed by the organisation's director, Ricardo Uceda: "IPYS requests that the National Police and the Prosecutor's Office carry out an extensive investigation of the illegal phone tapping at the home of 'El Comercio' journalist Juan Paredes Castro. In the past, cases such as this have not been resolved adequately. This makes it even more important to shed light on this case and to ensure that the public is kept abreast of the progress in the investigation. We also demand that the government of Alan García show its commitment to solving the case and that it expresses its ongoing condemnation of the incident, in accordance with the initial condemnations expressed by government spokepersons".

In a separate incident, on 8 April, "El Comercio" journalist José Santillán Arrúz and Canal N camera operator Luis Corrales were detained by the police while they were covering an inspection by the Ombudsman in the Police Hospital. The journalists were accused of "usurping functions" for wearing vests with the Ombudsman logo on them. They were released four hours later.

As the reporters left the hospital, Santillán said that the Ombudsman's Office had given them the vests so that they could be easily identified as the journalists who were assigned to cover the visit. The inspection was prompted by a complaint about a shortage of medicines in the hospital's pharmacy.

IPYS calls on the police to refrain from hindering journalists' work and to avoid arbitrary detentions in the future.

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