Press freedom was affected during this period by several court decisions that sparked public debate on the sentencing of journalists to jail terms, the standard of actual malice, the right of reply and confidentiality of sources, among others. On May 15 an appeals court overturned a ruling by a trial court that in March had handed down a six-month suspended prison sentence to radio reporter Oscar Ubiría, charging him with the crimes of defamation and libel. In November 2002, on his show “To Begin to Believe” on CW 158 Radio San Salvador in Dolores (Soriano), Ubiría had criticized the organizers of a fashion show to raise money for a charitable organization. The reporter stated on the radio that it had been a “fraud” to ask the public to come to a fashion show for this cause, because only a small percentage of the proceeds were donated to the stated purpose. The organizers of the show sued Ubiría, and the reporter was convicted in criminal court. In overturning the sentence, the appeals court stated that people engaged in private-sector activity who attract public interest are subject to criticism and, in these cases, the freedom of speech may override the right to protect one’s reputation. The reporter did not go to prison, but nonetheless suffered multiple consequences of the trial court conviction. The radio station where his program had aired terminated his contract, and several advertisers decided to withdraw their ads. On June 13 an appeals court upheld a trial court ruling that in April had acquitted Sergio Israel, a reporter for the weekly newspaper Brecha, after he had been charged with defamation and libel for writing several reports on alleged acts of corruption by city official Mario Areán, the private secretary of the mayor of Montevideo. Israel mentioned in his articles that Areán had been involved since December of 2002 in alleged bribery; mishandling of funds intended for visits to the countryside by his political party, the Broad Front; improper actions in various municipal affairs, and influence peddling. Israel said that he had obtained the information from sources that asked to remain confidential. Areán felt that his reputation had been damaged and filed criminal charges. But the judges at both the trial and appeals levels, basing their decision on the doctrine of “actual malice,” upheld the right of journalists to keep their sources confidential and acquitted the reporter. In particular, the court emphasized the famous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Sullivan v The New York Times. Shortly thereafter, an ethics tribunal of the Broad Front issued a document corroborating several of the statements that had been made public by Israel, and Areán resigned from his position in the mayor’s office. On July 10 the Uruguayan Press Association (APU) publicly denounced “restrictive and threatening practices” by two members of Parliament against journalists Andrés Danza of the weekly newspaper Búsqueda and Fernando Cabrera of Canal 10. On July 17 an appeals court upheld a lower court decision that had ordered Canal 10 to issue a “right of reply” to the Paraguayan Association of Newsstand and Gaming Operators and Agents. The appeals court determined that a report aired on the program “Zona Urbana” on the prices charged for public phone cards had been “inaccurate” and “injurious.” It had been reported on the program that some newsstand operators were selling the cards at prices higher than the price authorized by the state telephone company Antel. The court ruled that the “right of reply” is an “instrument to preserve one’s reputation and good name.” The channel was ultimately forced against its will to issue the “replies” ordered by the court. The APU publicly condemned the ruling, describing it as “counter to freedom of speech.” The APU also warned that it represents “a step toward government interference in the exercise of press freedom,” as well as a “setback in national case law” since “several (prior) rulings had determined that correcting the work of journalists falls outside the authority of judges.” On September 10 a trial court judge dismissed a criminal complaint by Jorge Gestoso, a reporter for the CNN television network, against Iván Kirichenko y Gustavo Escanlar, Uruguayan journalists for Radio Sarandí. Gestoso had accused them of referring to him in “injurious terms” and discrediting him in his “professional activity” in comments they made in February on their program “Everything in Place.” The Uruguayan reporters had criticized Gestoso, who is also of Uruguayan origin, claiming that when he traveled to Montevideo for CNN in 1999 to cover the Uruguayan presidential elections, he reported the election results inaccurately. The APU issued a statement by its Board of Directors that “we are surprised and feel it is wrong that Jorge Gestoso, in his work as a journalist for a major U.S. media outlet, would resort to a criminal complaint in order to resolve his differences with his two colleagues practicing journalism in Uruguay.” On September 30, Raúl Ronzoni, a reporter for the newsweekly Búsqueda, was cleared in a court case in which he had been named for having published in 2001 an interview with Manuel Cordero, a retired military officer charged with human rights violations during the Uruguayan dictatorship (1973-1985). In the interview Cordero admitted that torture and disappearances had taken place. After the interview was published, human rights organizations sued Cordero for “justification of the crime,” but the judge decided to make Ronzoni one of the targets of the investigation. The defense argued that the judge’s decision constituted a violation of freedom of the press because the reporter “had been tried for the mere act of publishing an interview, which is nothing more than part of his job.” The prosecutor agreed with this argument and called it “absurd” for the reporter to be included in the proceedings. The judge approved the prosecutor’s request to release Ronzoni from the case. Those making the complaint had asked the reporter to provide the court with the “complete recording” of the interview. But Ronzoni asserted his right to keep his sources confidential and even refused to acknowledge whether a recording of the interview existed. The judges accepted the reporter’s arguments, and the APU stated that “the ruling constitutes the courts’ recognition of the right of all journalists to keep their sources confidential.”