The press worked under tense conditions during this period and found itself uncharacteristically at the center of public debate and political discourse, partly as a result of recent political turmoil. Various initiatives in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches would create severe restrictions on press freedom in Peru. There has been an alarming increase in assaults, death threats, and judicial harassment directed at journalists, as well as a rise in the number of forceful break-ins at the offices of media outlets in retaliation for their journalistic work. Significant cases include that of Mary Pérez, a radio journalist for La Voz de la Selva in the city of Iquitos, who has been the target of repeated assaults and death threats. Her program was abruptly interrupted by Rafael Saavedra, a government official in Maynas province. Pérez was conducting an interview on the damage caused by a municipal garbage dump to the Allpahuayo Mishana nature reserve. Also causing concern are reports from human rights organizations of death threats phoned in to journalist Julio Vásquez Calle, a contributor to Radio Cutivalú in Piura, in response to photographs confirming that more than 30 residents of Piura and Cajamarca detained at an August 2005 protest march were tortured by police officers, employees of the Forza security company, and officials of the Majaz mining company. Pérez, who was covering the protest and was also held for three days, filed a complaint in January with the provincial prosecutor’s office in Piura. Equipment was destroyed in October when groups of protesters broke into the facilities of Radio Uno in the city of Tacna and of Radio Sicuani in the province of Canchis, Cusco. A set of recordings that came to be known as “petroaudios” (petro-audiotapes) were run by various media outlets in early October 2008. They revealed alleged wrongdoing in oil field concessions, and a few days later these revelations forced the resignation of Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo and his cabinet of ministers. This political crisis also raised serious questions and triggered a debate on the balance between public interest and the right to disseminate information, on the one hand, and the legal and ethical responsibilities of journalists and media outlets that disseminate information illegally obtained by third parties. In addition, some of the journalists were subjected to acts of intimidation. Pablo O’Brien and Fernando Ampuero reported that they started being followed in October, and in November they received anonymous death threats phoned in to Dan Flores, political editor of the newspaper Peru.21. In mid-October, Judge María Teresa Cabrera of a criminal court in Lima ordered the immediate arrest of Magaly Medina, a popular and controversial entertainment reporter, and Ney Guerrero, producer of the program “Magaly TV” on ATV Channel 9. The judge sentenced them to five and three months in jail, respectively, and ordered them to pay approximately US$25,000 in compensation for defaming soccer player Paolo Guerrero. The verdict caused quite a stir among the public, which was divided between the reporter’s fans and those who dislike her aggressive approach in uncovering information about the private lives of soccer stars and entertainers — a reporting style that that has led to multiple court cases and convictions for privacy violations and defamation-related offenses. Medina’s arrest raised concern over the dozens of defamation-related cases currently pending against journalists and media outlets. Medina, whose release was urged by President Alan García Pérez, was let out of jail on December 31 after a ruling was issued on her appeal. The court, however, upheld her guilty verdict for aggravated defamation and increased her prison sentence to two years suspended. In early November, an IAPA delegation participated in a gathering titled “The Chapultepec Forum: Freedom of Expression and Democracy in Peru.” At the event, which was sponsored by the Peruvian Press Council and the Peruvian Congress, 11 of the 12 parties represented in Congress signed the Declaration of Chapultepec. Although four lower-court judges denied a petition to lift the confidentiality of the phone records of nine people, including O’Brien and Ampuero, in early December the members of the investigative committee used its powers to lift the confidentiality of their tax records, bank records, and, with the courts’ authorization, their telecommunications records. This poses the risk that their sources will be identified. In November, journalist Jorge Moncada of El Ciclón newspaper in the city of Chiclayo, in Lambayeque department, reported that members of the Forensics Division assaulted him and tried to get him to reveal the identity of a source for his story on the killing of a manager of a large local sugar company. In January, the Peruvian Press Council objected to the way in which prosecutors summoned Raúl Wiener Fresco, head of the investigative unit at the newspaper La Primera de Lima, to appear at the Anti-Terrorism Division of the National Police to render a statement on charges of “a crime against public order” and “terrorism.” A particularly noteworthy aspect of the summons is that it warned the journalist that if he didn’t keep quiet about the case, he would be committing a crime. Meanwhile, the editor and journalists at La Primera newspaper reported that they were subjected to assaults and abuse by security guards of judicial and other government officials, as well as discriminatory treatment in their efforts to gain access to the media contact at the main government building. In late January, the president submitted a bill to Congress to amend Article 162 of the Penal Code on the tapping of communications. While this amendment would update the law to reflect technological advances in communications, it would also make it a crime to disseminate secretly obtained material. This initiative was met with such opposition that the justice minister reversed course a few days later and suggested that Congress amend or delete those provisions of the bill that could be construed as curtailing press freedom. Ruling-party members of Congress put forward a proposed amendment to the Law on Radio and Television that would require radio and television stations to devote one hour of free programming to “educational topics or topics in moral and cultural development, as well as literacy, environmental protection and conservation, civic development, and anything else that helps disseminate knowledge to prepare people for life and work and promotes solidarity.” Under the proposal, the minister of education and the minister of transportation and communications would be charged with regulating and supervising implementation of the amendment, and a station’s failure to comply would be grounds for canceling its operating license. Progress continues in the effort to bring killers of journalists to justice. The Peruvian Press Council requested that the Rivera Fernández case be transferred from the Superior Court of Ucayali to a court in Lima. Víctor Valdez Villacorta, the former mayor of Coronel Portillo, and former judge Solio Ramírez have been identified as masterminds in the killing. Though the attorney general’s office said in February it was in favor of moving the case, the chief prosecutor’s office ruled against the transfer. In December, a court in Jaén sentenced Elvia Mendoza Linares and Dilber Arteaga Cabada to 27 and 10 years in prison, respectively, for their involvement in the March 2007 murder of Radio Éxitos journalist Miguel Pérez Julca in the city of Jaén, Cajamarca. Sabino Ayala, aka “El Chino,” who allegedly carried out the killing, remains at large. Just before he was killed, Pérez Julca had said he would reveal the identity of police officers who provide protection to drug traffickers and criminals. In another development, more than 20 years after the tragic deaths of eight journalists and one guide in the rural community of Uchuraccay, in Ayacucho department, the Reparations Council gave family members the certificates verifying their listings in the Victims Registry, thus acknowledging that the journalists and their families were victims of the violence that shook Peru between May 1980 and November 2000. The victims were Eduardo de la Piniella Palao, Pedro Sánchez Gaviria, Félix Gavilán Huamán, Jorge Luis Mendivil Trelles, Willy Retto Torres, Jorge Sedano Falcón, Amador García Yanqui, Octavio Infante García, and guide Juan Argumedo García. Below is a chronology of other developments during this period: On October 23, Abel Vargas Cari, director of the program “Prensa Regional” on Radio Felicidad in the province of Padre Abad, in the Ucayali region, reported that he was beaten and threatened with a gun in response to his reporting on nepotism and corruption. On October 31, Isaías Olivera Mamani, host of the program “Victoria Informativa, Tercera Edición” on Radio Victoria in the Arequipa region, reported that a mob of some 50 people showed up at the radio intending to assault him after threatening his life. On November 3, Tobías Zevallos Cabello, director of the news program “Sucesos” on Radio Fiesta in the Pichanaqui district in Chanchamayo province, Junín region, was brutally beaten by the chief of the district’s “Serenazgo” watch unit in response to his reports on a municipal police officer who shot at someone. On November 6, Javán Vásquez Huancahuari, a journalist with Radio Estudio Antena Uno in Celendín district, Cajamarca region, reported that District Mayor Juan de Dios Tello cut off power to the radio station after its journalists criticized the mayor’s administration. On December 4, journalist Genaro Alvarado Tuesta of the radio station La Voz de la Selva, in the city of Iquitos, reported that he was attacked by Wilbert Mercado Arbieto, president of the Superior Court’s District Judiciary Office, and thrown out of his office by security guards when he tried to interview him. Hours earlier, the radio station had reported that the judge had been sanctioned for inappropriate use of a vehicle belonging to the judicial branch. On January 3, journalist Elizabeth Salinas and Eladio Robles, the general secretary of news vendors in the district of Chosica, Lima province, reported that two witnesses told them that members of the municipal watch unit had purchased a large number of copies of the newspaper Perú.21 on the orders of district mayor Luis Bueno Quino, who was accused in the newspaper of smuggling fuel in complicity with other municipal authorities and members of the Peruvian National Police. In July 2008, Mayor Bueno was also accused in the press of ordering the municipal police to buy up all copies of El Comercio newspaper in the district, located east of the capital, because of an article accusing him with sexual harassment. On January 20, Luis Rivas, a correspondent for the daily La República in the Lambayeque region was shot in the right leg while covering the forceful eviction of hundreds of squatters in the Bosque de Pómac nature reserve. El 21 de enero, el 57° Juzgado en lo Penal de Lima que preside la jueza Yolanda Gallegos Canales, reservó el fallo condenatorio al periodista Herbert Mujica Rojas, en la lectura de la sentencia por el juicio de difamación agravada que el gerente general de Lima Airport Partners (LAP), concesionaria del aeropuerto Jorge Chávez, Jaime Daly Arbulú, entabló contra el periodista a mediados del año pasado. La jueza Gallegos se reservó el fallo condenatorio por no encontrar méritos suficientes para sancionar al autor del libro “Estafa al Perú, cómo robarse aeropuertos y vivir sin problemas”, y le dictó una reparación civil y reglas de conducta habituales. Por otro lado, el periodista Mujica tiene abierto otro juicio por difamación en el Noveno Juzgado Penal, por el contenido del mismo libro, que le ha entablado Lima Airport Partners (LAP). On January 21, Lima criminal court judge Yolanda Gallegos Canales postponed the conviction of journalist Herbert Mujica Rojas in an aggravated defamation case brought in mid-2008 by Jaime Daly Arbulú, the general manager of Lima Airport Partners (LAP), which holds the concession for Jorge Chávez International Airport. Judge Gallegos made this decision because she did not find sufficient evidence to convict the author of the book Estafa al Perú, cómo robarse aeropuertos y vivir sin problemas (Defrauding Peru: How to Steal Airports and Live Easy), but she ordered him to pay a civil indemnity and placed restrictions on his conduct. Meanwhile, Mujica faces another trial for defamation in a different criminal court in connection with the same book, based on a complaint brought by LAP. On January 21, reporter Rodolfo Daza of the program “Nuevo Día” on Perú TV, in the city of Cusco, was forced to leave Southeastern National Hospital. Roque Cornejo, head of the imaging department at the hospital, assaulted him as he was reporting live on the hospital’s service to the public. On January 21, Ana Yuffra, a mayoral candidate in San Juan Bautista district, Maynas province, held a group of journalists against their will to prevent them from interviewing a group of people gathered outside the door of her home who were accusing her of malfeasance. The journalists, who were in Yuffra’s home at the time, were reporter Silvana Moz Mendoza and photographers José Arbildo and Raúl Tarrillo of Amazónica de Televisión, Channel 2; Marbella Mamani Villacorta of Radio La Karibeña; and María Teresa Upiachihuay Pacaya of Radio Loreto. On February 23, Engels Ortiz, editor of the newsletter E-Huacho, reported that security guards from José Faustino Sánchez Carrión University confiscated copies of his publication to keep them from being distributed to his students. He attributed this to a report on impending action in response to numerous accusations of corruption and mismanagement of funds against university officials.