During the past six months, journalists have been able to work without any major impediments. Nonetheless, troublesome legal provisions remain in force, and there still are pending bills that could imperil freedom of expression under the pretext of protecting privacy and personal reputations. There has been little movement on the draft legislation, but neither has there been much progress on initiatives aimed at resolving already existing legal problems. Among the latter initiatives is a proposal to facilitate access to public sources, introduced by the speaker and deputy speaker of the Senate, who represent the two major national political coalitions. Since our last meeting, there have been some favorable legal rulings in complex cases involving charges against a number of journalists. New charges against reporters for the main television channels were dismissed by the Court of Appeals in a matter of days. Similarly, there was an amicable resolution of a lawsuit between a prosecutor for the Court of Appeals and the news director of Chilevisión, journalist Alejandro Guillier. Notwithstanding those favorable developments, there has been no change in the legal status of four journalists who reported on the secret sexual activities of an appeals court judge, which would have compromised him in the event of an investigation. All four still are on trial for invasion of privacy, and the former executive director of Chilevisión is still barred from resuming his post. A considerable number of members of Congress now consider the law that allowed his removal to be flawed, and two members of Congress have introduced legislation to amend it, but there has been no movement towards passage of their bill. New concerns arose in early September, when the editor of the El Periodista newspaper and a reporter for El Mercurio received e-mailed death threats, which the messages specified were in response to the publication of news reports about the mayor of a municipality in Santiago. On September 28, the offices of El Periodista were burglarized; the only items stolen were computers containing financial and accounting information. It came to light that something similar had happened years earlier, after a reporter for an Internet news site published information indicating possible irregularities in the same municipality. She, too, subsequently was threatened, and her computer later was stolen from her home. In the current case, police specializing in cyber-crime are trying to determine the point of origin of the threatening e-mails and the authorities have offered police protection to the journalists who were threatened. Other legal proceedings related to press freedom are as follows: In a case involving a robbery of a gasoline station, a judge in the city of Chillán ruled in favor of a defense motion to bar the media from releasing the name of one of the defendants. In his ruling, the judge cited the principle of presumption of innocence and protection of the defendant’s reputation. Both the regional prosecutors and the Chillán newspaper La Discusión appealed the judge’s ruling, pointing out that the Code of Criminal Procedure holds that judicial hearings are public and that only very special circumstances merit imposition of measures of that sort. On April 30, the Chillán Court of Appeals denied the appeal, and the Supreme Court upheld this ruling on August 3, noting that the defendant had reached an agreement with the newspaper allowing his name to be revealed. Nevertheless, it was significant that the Supreme Court held in its ruling that protecting the privacy and reputation of the defendant cannot serve as a basis for barring the media from revealing his identity. On September 1, 2004, a female rape victim filed suit seeking 70 million pesos (US$120,000) in damages from the Talca newspaper El Centro, for an article it had published on January 27 including her name and details of the crime. The plaintiff testified in court by means of videoconferencing, and there is no indication in the record that the court sought to bar identification of the victim. Therefore, the plaintiff sought to justify her claim by invoking an article of a new law. The law is Statute 19733, governing freedom of expression, freedom of information and the exercise of journalism. Article 33, which the plaintiff invoked, prohibits reporting about certain crimes, including rape, without express consent. However, this article implicitly was overturned by the new Code of Criminal Procedure, which is based on the public character of trial proceedings. Senator Jovino Novoa filed a civil suit against Catholic University’s Channel 13 seeking US$3 million in damages because the station had broadcast the testimony of a woman who claimed she had been sexually abused by the senator, but who subsequently — after being caught in contradictions and errors — retracted her claim and admitted it had all been a lie. Two months after the suit was filed, the channel offered a public apology to the senator, but the lawsuit is ongoing. The newspaper El Comercio of Lima, Peru joined the National Press Association in a suit against the director of the Chilean customs service, seeking access to documents related to alleged irregularities in the importation of a car for a Peruvian congressman. The Third Civil Court of Valparaíso ruled in favor of the plaintiffs on June 9, 2004, stating in its decision that the actions of the customs service undermined “the legitimate exercise of the right of access to public information set forth in Article 13 of the Organic Law on State Administration.” The customs director did not appeal the ruling, and the information sought was turned over to El Comercio newspaper. This was the first court ruling handed down on this issue since the law on access to public sources was enacted.