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Journalist threatened after criticising presidential candidate; Gana Perú party supporters assault reporters

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 20 May 2011, TV journalist Elvis Italo Guillermo Espinoza said he has received threats on his cell phone and via the Internet in connection with his criticism of presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori. The journalist had recently denounced that the news program he hosted for the 4 JSV station in Huánuco region, central Peru, had been cancelled.

The journalist, who reported the program's cancellation to the press and organizations that defend press freedom and freedom of expression, believes that some members of Fujimori's party, Fuerza 2011, and even the station's manager are behind the threats.

Station manager Janeth Santacruz Ramos cancelled the program on 17 May without any prior notice. According to Guillerno Espinoza, who had been hosting the program for eighteen months, this was due to the fact that he would not stop his critical coverage the candidate. Santacruz has argued that it was the journalist's lack of objectivity and responsibility, not an advertising commitment with Fuerza 2011, which led to her decision to cancel the program.

The program was cancelled after the journalist interviewed lawyer Rosalía Stork, former coordinator of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, who spoke at length about former president Alberto Fujimori's involvement in corruption and human rights violations.

The journalist has asked for protection from Huánuco's governor, noting that this is not the first time that he has been targeted. In April, he was riding his motorbike when he was hit by a vehicle, which came at him from out of nowhere. The journalist suffered injuries to his legs.

In a separate incident, on 25 May, around 10 journalists were harassed by supporters of the Gana Perú party, headed by presidential candidate Ollanta Humala. The media was reporting on Humala's rival, Keiko Fujimori, as she participated in several rallies in the province of Bambamarca, Cajamarca region, in northern Peru.

The journalists, representing local, national and international media outlets, were targeted by a mob of demonstrators dressed in t-shirts and carrying signs that read Gana Perú, with insults such as "media sell-outs", "Fujimori's journalists" and "liars". The demonstrators also threw eggs at Fujimori, but they hit the journalists and Fuerza 2011 supporters instead.

After the event, the Gana Perú supporters also threw stones at a van that was occupied by Colombian NTN 24 TV station reporter Olinda Merzthal and her camera operator. According to IPYS's correspondent in Cajamarca, one of the stones struck and damaged a video camera.

Among the journalists who were harassed and insulted were Luis Mego Díaz, América Televisión correspondent; Jaime Herrera, Frecuencia Latina correspondent; Alvaro Briones of Canal 21 in Cajamarca, and others.

IPYS condemns the incident.

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