Threats and accusations against the press during the period have come especially from politicians at the highest levels of power in response to reports implicating them in illegal activities. In one such case President Luis González threatened on November 1 to shut down media outlets after recordings were broadcast of conversations showing he had tampered illegally in judicial decisions and appointments. Even so, a prosecutor’s attempt to impose prior restraint on the media and so prevent publication of conversations obtained by illegal wiretaps was rebuffed by Judge Blanca Gorostiaga, who ruled that, if the wiretaps had violated privacy rights, the proper course of action was to file charges against those responsible, but that Paraguay’s legal system makes no provision for prior restraint. An appeals court upheld her ruling on November 15. The president also threatened Eduardo Nicolás Bo, editor of the newspaper Noticias, saying he would “fix his wagon” in response to statements that the president was an incompetent drunkard with ties to organized crime. On February 19 Speaker of Congress Juan Carlos Galaverna accused the editor of the newspaper ABC Color, along with a retired military officer and politician, of trying to kill him, releasing a recording of an conversation allegedly between the Brazilian hitmen planning the attempt. These accusations from a politician facing corruption charges aroused little public interest. Lower-level officials around the country also threatened and even physically assaulted journalists critical of their performance in office. On November 6 Osvaldo Domínguez Dibb, president of the Club Olimpia soccer team and owner of the newspaper La Nación, filed a formal demand for correction and endorsement by the Noticias after a story ran on its sports page reporting that “Osvaldo Domínguez Dibb says there are drug dealers at Club Libertad,” a rival team. Before running the correction, Noticias published stories to the same effect that had appeared in La Nación. But on November 12 Domínguez filed charges of defamation and false accusations against the editor of Noticias, calling for the legally mandated penalties and seeking five million dollars in damages. The case is now in court. On March 11 Noticias editor Eduardo Nicolás Bo and his son, Marcos Nicolás Bo, filed charges of libel and false accusations against editor Alejandro Domínguez Wilson-Smith of La Nación, following reports in La Nación that the two had been involved in illegal business dealings. The complaint alleged “nothing short of a smear campaign to publicly discredit us,” adding that La Nación had published accusations it knew to be false, that the Bos were tax evaders who filed false returns and had links to drug trafficking. The case is now in court. Both Noticias and La Nación have published extended series of articles in which the editors accuse each other of illegal business dealings. Both make and market cigarettes. Four people were arrested on November 8 and 9 at Internet companies accused of running pirate telephone networks out of two buildings in central Asunción. The arrests were made by three criminal prosecutors. The criminal complaint against the two companies, Planet and Quanta, had been filed by basic telephone service monopoly-holder Compañia Paraguaya de Comunicaciones (COPACO), which accused them of opening the way for international calls to be made over fiber-optic cables at local calling rates. For its complaint COPACO resorted to wiretaps authorized by a civil-law notary, allowing a COPACO to “listen in” on satellite signals. The courts ordered the two companies reopened a few days later, but some legal analysts and media executives considered the arrests and sanctions an affront to press freedom. Néstor Insaurralde, editor of the newspaper Popular, was sentenced by Judge José Waldir Servín on November 21 to pay a fine of approximately five million dollars (32,871,600 guaranís) after being found guilty of the actionable offense of violating the privacy of a 15-year-old minor identified by her initials, MCM, when it published a photograph of her on its La Bomba Popular page, which features scantily clad girls in provocative poses. According to the complaint, the minor had signed up for a modeling course at an agency, where photographs were taken of her partially undressed, supposedly for internal use at the agency. One of these photographs was published in Popular. On November 22 Juan Carlos Barreto Miranda, a candidate for governor in the department of Alto Paraná, censored a program on his own radio station, Radio Parque, for criticism of him and other candidates of the governing Partido Colorado party. Journalist Nery Jara of the same radio station charged that he had been fired for working for another political group. Chairman Hedis Pedro de Sa Souza barred journalists representing ABC Color and radio station Pionera from a meeting of the town council of San Alberto, 320 km from Asunción. The chairman and several councilmen were upset over reports in ABC Color of alleged irregularities on the council. On December 11 the Supreme Court overturned the conviction and sentence of Ricardo Canese, accused of defamation and making false accusations by executives of Conempa, a company owned by former President Juan C. Wasmosy, for editorials appearing in ABC Color. The court struck down the trial- and appellate-court decisions and granted a motion for a new trial. The ruling held that no one can be found guilty of a crime for statements made on matters of public interest involving public officials or people in the public eye, even when the statements tarnish their good name or reputation. The trial court had sentenced Canese to four months in prison on March 22, 1994. The appellate court reduced the sentence to two months, but the Supreme Court set both sentences aside. In one of his editorials Canese had said that Wasmosy was acting as a front in Conempa for the family of former dictator Alfredo Stroessner, now living in exile in Brazil, and passing substantial dividends to him. On December 13 Chief Detective Aristides Cabral of the National Police’s Criminal Investigations Branch warned La Nación editor Alejandro Domínguez Wilson-Smith that his life may be in danger. Cabral said he had information on a possible attack on Domínguez and recommended that he take precautions. The warning came at a time when the newspaper was publishing investigative reports on corruption and the involvement of powerful individuals in illegal activities. Businessman Ahmad Khalil Chams of Ciudad del Este, 330 km from Asunción, filed charges against ABC Color editor Aldo Zuccolillo on December 17, alleging defamation, false accusations and libel, and seeking two million dollars in damages for bodily injury and property damage. Khalil was reacting to stories in ABC Color based on documents that showed Khalil had a criminal record in Panama. Khalil had filed previous criminal complaints against Zuccolillo, but all were thrown out as inadmissible. Zuccolillo has been taken to court 14 times in recent years. Many of these cases have been brought by important public figures. On February 1 Octavio Alvarez, a staffer in the office of the governor of Caazapá, a department 300 km southeast of Asunción, physically assaulted local ABC Color reporter Antonio Caballero and smashed his camera for taking photographs of an official vehicle with a private license plate, no ´official use only´ logo, and the banner of the governing Partido Colorado party on its roof.