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Caracas prosecutor asks journalist to reveal sources after article alleging corruption in state-owned oil company

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 31 May 2007, the 21st Prosecutor of Caracas' Metropolitan Region (Fiscal 21 del Área Metropolitana de Caracas), Álvaro Hitcher, made an urgent request for permission from the Prosecutor General's Office to ask the weekly newspaper "La Razón" for personal identification information, as well as notes, data, documents, physical documentation and tapings used by journalist Luis Felipe Colina, to publish his column "Carrusel Político", where he revealed alleged acts of corruption in the state-owned petroleum company Petróleos de Venezuela Sociedad Anónima (PDVSA) in September 2006 and April 2007.

The prosecutor also requested personal identification information about two typists, the general coordinator, the paper's chief editor and its manager.

The weekly's lawyer, Omar Estacio, stated to IPYS that article 28 of the national Constitution, and article 8 of the Law for the Practice of Journalism (Ley del Ejercicio del Periodismo), allow journalists to protect confidential sources; therefore, he says, nobody can be forced to reveal them.

Estacio also complained that a campaign of harassment has been conducted against "La Razón", through a series of legal actions against its journalists and government-applied pressure on the newspaper's advertisers.

IPYS believes that the measure violates the constitutional right to protect sources of information.

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