The climate for press freedom has become more tense because of several disturbing events. If these problems become worse, it would cause an unfavorable work environment for journalists in the period leading up to the general elections of 2006. The number of journalists attacked because of their work in Lima and the provinces has increased. These attacks included armed raids on media outlets, brief kidnappings, seizure and destruction of notes and equipment and anonymous death threats. In some cases, especially in the provinces, the attackers have been identified and linked to local officials who have been challenged by the press. This is the case in the recent attack on Paul Garay Ramírez, the host of the program ?The Voice of the People? on radio station Frecuencia Oriental of Pucallpa . He was severely beaten twice by armed groups while broadcasting. They have now been identified. Garay was a close colleague of journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández, who was murdered in April 2004. The crime has not been solved, although two journalists who worked in the government building of Coronel Portillo province and who are accused of planning the crime are still being held in the maximum-security prison of Pucallpa. There are indications linking the murder of Rivera Fernández to drug trafficking, an activity that has intensified because of the implementation of Plan Colombia . In February the Peruvian Press Council publicly rejected the decision of the Superior Court of Madre de Dios upholding a two-year prison sentence and prohibition of practicing his profession against Luis Aguirre Pastor, director of the radio news show ?The Voice of Madre de Dios.? He was well known for his reports critical of regional officials. The prohibition against working is a dangerous precedent since it is based on the claim that Aguirre does not have a university degree and is not a member of the journalists' colegio. In March 2004, the Judiciary Oversight Office investigated the judge and prosecutor of that court and sanctioned them. The tension between the press and the government reached a climax when legislators of the Peru Posible party and their allies in the Frente Independiente Moralizador (FIM) presented a motion to form a legislative committee to investigate an alleged plot against the government by a group of journalists, executives and members of the ?pro-Fujimori mafia.? The motion was rejected four times and finally postponed until the legislative session that begins in March. But FIM representatives filed a complaint with the Public Ministry against a group of people, including journalists, for the alleged crime of conspiracy to commit acts of blackmail and extortion. As a result, the head of the 37 th prosecutor's office opened a preliminary investigation. Another matter of concern are threats of million-dollar lawsuits announced by the lawyers of the brewery Cervecera Bavaria against Fernando Ampuero and Pablo O'Brien, head of the investigative staff and editor of the daily El Comercio, because of published reports about alleged bribes to high government officials. In the legislative sphere, some aspects of the Radio-Television Law approved February 15 and enacted in July 2004 should be questioned. The law gives the Transportation and Communications Ministry the power to evaluate, accept or reject codes of ethics, which the law requires all broadcast media outlets to have. It also provides that in case of war, the Defense Ministry can take over radio services and dictate operating procedures. Finally, after a long trial, the Anticorruption Court convicted high military officers and owners and journalists of the ?yellow press? who accepted money to participate in a disinformation and defamation campaign against politicians and journalists who opposed the government of Alberto Fujimori. The media executives and journalists received prison sentences of between five and eight years for conspiracy and aggravated embezzlement. This decision was accepted by the media outlets that are most representative of the country and by public opinion in general. The following are the cases that have occurred since October. On October 15, Eduardo Cobos and Lorena Ormeño of Panamericana Televisión ; Lizbeth Maceda and Armando Valle of Frecuencia Latina; Luisa Vargas, Pamela Molina and Erick Schreiber of ATV ; and Roberto Villanueva and Jorge de la Quintana of the Univisión network were physically and verbally attacked by unidentified individuals who took away material recorded during the eviction of merchants from No. 2 Wholesale Fruit Market in the Lima neighborhood Victoria by the National Police. On October 18, Beatriz Jiménez Tejero, a correspondent of Radio la Voz de la Selva of Iquitos and Luz Marina Herrera of the daily La Región were evacuated in an Air Force plane after being surrounded and threatened by members of the recall committee of El Estrecho while covering the recall of Mayor Víctor Raúl Reátegui Paredes. On October 24, an unknown person shot Luis Chávez Alpaca, bodyguard of the editor of the investigative unit of the daily El Comercio , Fernando Ampuero, in the leg. Ampuero, who has received telephone threats, did not rule out the possibility that the attack might have been a reprisal for his newspaper's reports about drug trafficking and corruption. On October 28, José Luis Novoa Flores, who had been suspended as mayor of Utcubamba province in the Amazonas region, issued a complaint in the Utcubamba provincial prosecutor's office against Jorge Carlos Flores Burgos and Karina Flores, an announcer and a journalist of the program ?Without Censorship? of radio station La Voz ; Alberto Enrique Pintado Villaverde, correspondent of Televisión Nacional del Perú in Amazonas; and Iván Alexander Peralta Chunga, an announcer of Radio Mix of Bagua Grande. He accused them of sedition, rebellion and aggravated damages. The journalists had reported corruption during Novoa Flores's term of office. On October 29, Oswaldo Condori, owner of Radio Oriental in Huancané province, Puno region, was threatened and physically attacked by unknown people who burst into the station while he was broadcasting the news show. They ordered him to stop reporting on alleged administrative corruption in Huancané. On November 2, Raúl Vela Carhuas, of the daily El Pregonero of Huánuco, received an anonymous call on his cell phone telling him to stop reporting on the slow pace of terrorism trials. If he did not, he was told, there would be reprisals against the editor and entire staff of the newspaper. Vela confirmed that the call came from the Potracancha jail. He attributed the threats to the fact that the daily had warned of the possible release of prisoners convicted of terrorism. On November 12, Luis Lingán Ramirez of Radio HGB in Cajamarca went into hiding after colleagues warned him that he might be kidnapped by peasant bands in Santa Cruz , Cajamarca province. On November 13, a group of truck drivers protesting the increase in the price of fuel, attacked Teodoro Feliciano Quispe and Ana María Tintaya, director and reporter respectively of the program ?Límites? of Canal A of Tacna, and took away their tape when they saw that the demonstration was being recorded. On November 29, Juan Segundo Espinoza Linares of the program ?Voice and Thought of the People? of radio station Nova of Ancash, was attacked physically and verbally by municipal policeman Humberto Venegas Liñán in the Santa province government building. On December 1, a criminal court in Lima , headed by Judge María Falconí, dismissed the defamation complaint by legislator Jorge Mufarech against Pedro Salinas, a columnist for the daily Correo de Lima , ruling that the articles at issue expressed opinions that are protected by the right of freedom of expression. On December 1, a group of soldiers took away the notes and equipment of Hugo Sacacahua, correspondent of Panamericana Televisión in Juliaca; Jorge Rojas Díaz of Canal 21 Grami TV ; and Julio Núñez of Radio la Transmisión Correcta during a demonstration organized by the governor of Puno, David Jiménez. The journalists had recorded regional officials giving food and money to the public. On December 3, Elías Navarro Palomino, correspondent of the daily La República in Ayacucho, said he had received death threats as text messages on his cell phone. He said the messages probably came from the radical faction of the Peruvian teachers' union (SUTEP) in reprisal for reports he had published about a trial against the union and its relations with the terrorist group, the Shining Path. On December 10, unidentified individuals burned the home of Henry Portugal Pérez, host of the program ?The Voice of the People? on Radio Caplina of Tacna. This violent attack seemed to be a response to the journalist's repeated reports about administrative irregularities in the regional and municipal governments of Tacna. On December 20, a criminal court in Puno ordered the release of Henry Galo Medina, director of the news program ?San Miguel Reports? on San Miguel radio in Ilave district. He had been in jail for eight months on charges of inciting violence during disturbances on April 26, 2004 that ended with the lynching of the mayor, Cirilo Robles. On December 27, Duber Mauriola Labán, an announcer at Radio Centinela of Piura, was kidnapped by members of peasant militias armed with sticks who accused him of defending the interests of the Majaz mining company, which they said was polluting Huancabamaba in Piura province. The police rescued him on December 30. He appeared to have been tortured. On January 3. José Francisco and Jose Enrique Crousillat, former owners of América Televisión , were arrested in Chile and deported to Argentina. They had fled that country in October of 2004. The executives are sought by Peruvian courts for the crimes of receiving stolen property, influence peddling, embezzlement and conspiracy with Vladimiro Montesinos, an adviser of former president Alberto Fujimori. The Peruvian foreign ministry said it is seeking their extradition. On January 11, security guards at Hipólito Unanue Hospital in Lima attacked José Díaz Rodríguez of América Televisión and Joice Pacori of the daily Correo and took away their journalistic material while they were investigating the death of a Colombian woman due to alleged medical malpractice. On January 14, Santos García Núñez, host of the program ?The Truth? on Radio Néctar , was beaten and threatened by residents of Nueva Cajamarca in Rioja province, San Martin region. They were incited by Juan Héctor Vizconde Piparra, who accused the journalist of insulting the residents. García was taken to a public meeting to apologize, but he refused to do so and the meeting broke up. He filed a complaint of assault with the National Police in Cajamarca. On January 16, a group of villagers led by Santos Díaz Carrasco and Vizconde Piparra, attacked the facilities of Radio Néctar, destroying the offices and transmission equipment. They even threatened some journalists with a gun. The attackers said their action was justified because they had been insulted on a radio program. On January 19, a criminal court judge in Cuzco, Miguel Ángel Castelo Andía, sentenced Julio Jara Ladrón de Guevara, editor of the daily El Comercio de Cusco , to one year in prison, suspended, and payment of fines to the state for aggravated libel against former official Rafael Córdoba Paliza. According to the court's decision, the journalist libeled Córdoba Paliza when he published an article accusing the official of defrauding and stealing from 42 peasant communities. The journalist said he had simply reported the statements of a legislator and appealed the decision. On January 20, a National Police captain named Martínez assaulted Ana María Yesquén, correspondent of Radio Programas del Perú in Chiclayo when she tried to enter a farm to cover the eviction of a group of families. On January 24, Antonio Angulo Daneri, of the magazine Etiqueta Negra , was attacked by supporters of the Peruvian Aprista Party (APRA) during a presentation of his book ?Call It Love If You Wish? at a book fair in Trujillo. They objected to the author's description of the alleged homosexuality of APRA's founder, Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre. On January 25, the Colombian brewery Cervecería Colombiana Bavaria charged Pablo O'Brien Cuadros, a journalist in the investigative unit of El Comercio , with crimes against legal authority and making false statements in a Panama City prosecutor's office. The brewery's legal representative Jaime Lombana filed the charge. On January 26, an anticorruption court sentenced those responsible for a media campaign to discredit journalists and politicians opposed to President Alberto Fujimori between 1997 and 2000 to five years in prison without parole. The following were convicted of crimes against public administration and aggravated embezzlement: Moisés Wolfenson, editor of the daily La Razón and former owner of the dailies El Chino and El Men ; Alex Wolfenson, former business manager of the publishing company Todo Sport; José Olaya, former editor of El Chino and current owner of the tabloid El Tío . Also convicted were: Pablo Documet Rivera, owner of the publishing company El Gigante and the dailies El Chato, La Yuca and Conclusión and Jorge Rivera, owner of the daily La Chuchi. On January 29, unidentified individuals attacked Fernando Valverde Lavado of the Huaraz daily Ya in the street until passersby helped him and took him to a hospital. The attackers were identified as Gilfor and Gif Alva Sotomayor, the sons of Alva Fontanela, coordinator of Los Angeles University, Pomabama branch, which Valverde had criticized. On February 17 Jaime del Águila Carrillo, president of the Journalists Federation of Pucallpa and director of the Peruvian Sports Institute of Ucayali and three unidentified people prevented Paul Garay Ramírez from broadcasting his radio program ?The Voice of the People.? Garay is also editor of the weekly Del Pueblo in Pucallpa. The attackers burst violently into the office of Radio Frecuencia Oriental and threatened the journalist with a gun. He had been reporting on corruption in the journalists' organization. On February 23, Paul Garay Ramírez was attacked again. Three people with guns broke into the radio station again and gave him a beating that seriously injured him. One of the attackers was identified as Jaime del Águila Ríos, son of Jaime del Águila Carrillo. The journalist says these attacks are responses to his continuous reporting on corruption in various government, regional and labor organizations. On March 4, Judge Doris Osorio in Yungay ordered the provisional release of Casiano Vega Jara, the chauffeur of the mayor of Yungay, who initially was charged with murdering journalist Antonio De La Torre Echeandía of Rado Órbita. The mayor of Yungay, Amaro León León, who is thought to have planned the crime, is still in the Huaraz prison. The journalist was killed on February 14, 2004. Moisés David Julca Orrillo, whom the national police identified as the murderer, is still at large.