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Congressional Committee violated privacy of journalists who denounced corruption scandal

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 3 August 2011, "La República" newspaper's investigations unit revealed that the privacy of a number of reporters was violated following an order by a Congressional investigative committee, which was seeking information on the journalists' sources. The reporters in question were Fernando Rospigliosi, Laura Puertas, Fernando Ampuero and Pablo O'Brien.

In 2008, the journalists investigated and reported on one of the most talked about acts of corruption of the former government of Alan García, known as "Petroaudios", which implicated several high-ranking officials. The prime minister was forced to resign after investigations pointed to the existence of an enormous lobby to divide oil fields into lots in Peru.

At the time, a Congressional committee, known as "Luízar", was created to investigate the probable existence of a wiretapping network related to the case. On 3 August 2011, "La República" published a document which proves that the "Luízar" committee secretly asked telephone companies to hand over the journalists' phone records, so that it could identify their sources of information on the corruption scandal.

Former congressman Walter Menchola, who was a member of the Luízar Committee, justified the measure saying that it was carried out "with legal authorization". He also said that "journalists are not angels exempt from committing some crime."

IPYS's lawyer in charge of the journalists' defense, Roberto Pereyra, explained that the journalists had not been formally informed that they would be part of an investigation, nor were they told of the intrusion into their communications, an act which is permitted only in the case of serious crimes.

The lawyer pointed out that the Congress of the Republic is neither authorized nor legally entitled to request the lifting of the protection of sources. "Only prosecutors and attorneys have this right," said Pereyra.

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