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Three journalists defamed and threatened after investigating regional president

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 26 January 2012, journalists Rosario Romaní, Esther Valenzuela and Gudelia Machaca, of the newspaper "La Calle" and Estación Wari in Ayacucho, reported that they are the victims of a defamation campaign and are also being followed and threatened. This started happening after they published a series of reports that involve the regional president Wilfredo Oscorima in the controversial purchase of heavy machinery for the Ayacucho region, in central Perú.

The journalists told IPYS that after they published the reports, mass circulation emails were sent in which their reputations were damaged and they were accused of belonging to the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso.

Some media outlets that sympathize with Oscorima have added their voices to the defamation campaign against the communicators, and the regional president himself, rather than denying the allegations against him, has accused the journalists, during several press conferences, of being defamatory themselves as well as being murderers, and of being interested in having him removed from office.

Romaní has also denounced that she has been receiving anonymous threats via her cell phone. In fact, over the last week she received three threats warning her that they know where she lives and that her life is in danger.

The reports published by the journalists revealing the curious purchase of heavy machinery for 60 million soles (approx. US$22,292,400), led the prosecutor's office to open an investigation against the regional president for the alleged crimes of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.

IPYS condemns the harassment and threats against the journalists and requests that the authorities provide the necessary safeguards so that the communicators can continue exercising their profession.

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