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On World Press Freedom Day (3 May) in Colombia, the Coordinating Committee of Press Freedom Organizations (CCPFO) of nine press freedom groups unanimously approved a resolution supporting a Spanish journalist who has been the target of judicial harassment for more than a decade in Spain's courts.

Eleven years ago, José Luis Gutiérrez was charged with violating Moroccan King Hassan II's "right to maintain his honour," after his now defunct newspaper, "Diario 16", published a story about the seizure of five tons of hashish inside a truck belonging to the Moroccan Royal Crown. Although the story quoted police sources and was proven accurate, the defendant was found guilty and sentenced by four Spanish courts, including the country's top court.

Having exhausted all legal avenues in Spain, Gutiérrez is now taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) with the backing of the CCPFO.

The case is "a very dangerous precedent allowing journalists in democratic countries to be silenced by the leaders of autocratic governments," CCPFO's resolution read, and the ECHR should "declare the case null and void."

Seven of the nine members of the CCPFO also submitted an amicus curiae brief to the European Court on 3 May on behalf of Gutiérrez, urging the ECHR to eliminate the two laws used to indict him.

The signatories of the brief include the Committee to Protect Journalists, International Association of Broadcasting, International Federation of the Periodical Press, International Press Institute, Inter-American Press Association, World Association of Newspapers and World Press Freedom Committee. The Commonwealth Press Union and the North American Broadcasters Association also comprise the CCPFO.

For more information and to get involved in the case, email: freepress[@]wpfc[.]org.

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- IFEX alerts on Gutiérrez:
(8 May 2007)

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