Puerto Rico

There were no serious violations of press freedom in the past six months except some cases and orders issued by the new chief judge of the U.S. District Court in San Juan and the opposition of press organizations to the naming of a new police chief. The police official, José Figueroa Sancha, formerly an FBI supervisor, commanded an operation during which six journalists were attacked and that is the subject of a lawsuit. On February 10, 2006 a group of journalists were attacked by FBI agents while covering a raid. Those journalists, the Puerto Rican Journalists Association (ASPPRO) and the Overseas Press Club (OPC) sued the FBI in the U.S. District Court of San Juan in September 2006. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the plaintiffs. On November 18, 2008, Chief Judge José A. Fusté denied a motion presented by ASPPRO and the OPC on October 28 to reconsider his decision prohibiting release of the names of the FBI agents who attacked the journalists. On March 2, 2009 depositions of the FBI agents and Police Chief, José Figueroa Sancha were taken in a closed room at the federal court. Judge Fusté imposed a gag order on both sides. The press groups sent the judge a letter condemning the decision. On January 16, 2009 the press groups expressed their opposition to the naming of José Figueroa Sancha as police chief of Puerto Rico because he was the highest ranking official in the federal operation during which the six journalists were attacked on February 10, 2006.