PERU The controversy over press freedom in Peru has crossed the country's borders. It was analyzed and criticized by a special rapporteur on press freedom for the Organization of American States, by the U.S. Congress and by the Inter-American Human Rights Court. President Alberto Fujimori defended his government's constitutional position before the United Nations. Reasons for the grim situation of press freedom in Peru and the international concern are: the seizure of Channel 2 more than two years ago; the criminal prosecution of its owner Baruch Ivcher, his family and colleagues; Peru's withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Human Rights Court; the public abuse of the editor of La Republica, Gustavo Mohme, who is also an opposition congressman, and other journalists at that paper; the closing of news programs, as well as a creative range of attacks and intimidation against journalists in the interior of the country. While news can be reported openly in Peru - there are more than 30 newspapers in Lima - those who publish news that does not please certain groups in the government can suffer very serious consequences. These are the most important events. -March: Media companies close to the government undertook a furious, five-month daily campaign against the editor of La Republica, Gustavo Mohme and other journalists at the paper. It included publication of cartoons and headlines with truly humiliating comments on the front page. -May 5: In a harsh first report on the situation of the press in the Americas, the OAS' special rapporteur on press freedom, Santiago Canton, referred to harassment of journalists by intelligence services. He also criticized the judicial system, which he said is subject to political control and hinders the practice of journalism. The report added that the lack of legal security is aggravated by a campaign to discredit journalists who are critical of the government. -May 9: President Fujimori replied that "evidence of harassment of journalists will be investigated," a promise that has not yet been fulfilled. -May 11: Argentine citizen Hector Faisal, representative of Aprodev, a Web site based in Argentina that publishes a Web page from Peru that threatens journalists and other independent people, was accused of defamation and slander by seven journalists. Judges Greta Minaya and Antonia Saquicuray initiated legal proceedings, which were modified by the Lima Superior Court. Then the Superior Court acquitted Faisal. In the meantime (on May 27) Faisal was rescued by an extradition requested by an Argentine judge on charges of coercion and threats. The government has ignored a report of a long and revealing list of telephone calls between the office of Aprodev and the National Intelligence Service's office in Las Palmas. -May 31: Two satirical pamphlets appeared from time to time. The publications, called first, "La Repudica" and later "Repudio," were put out by the same people linked to the media that had published the cartoons. They had a clumsy resemblance to the design of La Republica and vilified Gustavo Mohme and the journalists of his newspaper. -June 24: The independent press gave a show of support to Gustavo Mohme and his team, publicly opposing the campaign of harassment and intimidation against them. -July 7: Because of a ruling by the Inter-American Human Rights Court ordering Peru to retry four Chilean terrorists accused of "betraying the fatherland" by a Peruvian military court, Congress approved Peru's immediate withdrawal from the jurisdiction of the OAS court. With time, initial suspicions have been confirmed that the withdrawal could have been a maneuver to avoid complying with, among others, the court's possible order to restore Baruch Ivcher's citizenship and his control of Channel 2. -The Inter-American court stated that it "has jurisdiction to hear the case." -July 10: However, the government said it would not comply with the sentence. As a result, in the future, Peruvians, and especially journalists, will have lost, in the view of the Peruvian government, their right to appeal to the supranational authority when their human rights are attacked. This is a helpless situation in a country where the judicial system does not offer real guarantees, in the view of public opinion and international institutions, among others. -July 18: The Channel 2 case claimed a new victim. Julio Sotelo Casanova, former attorney of Ivcher, the majority shareholder, received a suspended four year prison sentence. He was blamed for the alleged irregular transfer of 20 shares from Ivcher to two of his daughters. IAPA protested the verdict, saying that "what is intended is to condemn Ivcher and those around him," including the lawyers Alberto Borea and Emilio Rodriguez Larrain, the latter with a trial in which he faces a possible sentence of five years in prison. -Oct. 4: The U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution 57 expressing its concern for, among other issues, the "aggressive intimidation" of some Peruvian journalists. It mentions specifically the case of Ivcher and his family. The resolution also says that "the cases of harassment of media representatives have increased to the point of creating the perception of an organized intimidation campaign by the government and especially by the armed forces and the intelligence services." There have been other incidents including the closing of news programs because of political pressure, intimidation of journalists especially outside the capital, and various legal cases: -April 1: Ten journalists from radio stations in Cajamarca were threatened and attacked. The worst assaults were against journalists with Radio Marafion in Jaen and particularly Jose Luis Linares Altamirano. Two hooded men attacked him in his house. After dragging his girlfriend by the hair, they tied up the journalist and shot at him twice without wounding him. The violence followed the journalists' coverage of corruption involving provincial authorities. -April 19: Fernando Santos Rojas, director of the program "Libertad de Prensa" (Freedom of Press) of the station Estudio 99 in Junin, reported that people close to Mayor Arturo Durand Panez broke in during the transmission of the program, destroyed the studio and damaged equipment. -April 30: Cesar Hildebrandt, director of "Enlace Global con Hildebrandt," resigned from Channel 13 after reporting various kinds of interference, including political pressure. The owner said he left because of differences of opinion. -May 3: The political program "La Revista Dominical" was taken off America Televisi6n. Accordin to its director, Nicolas Lucar, this was because of disagreements about the show's political orientation. -May 4: The Public Ministry's prosecutors in the case of the murder of journalist Tito Pileo Mori in Rioja were withdrawn. The case, which has been followed very carefully by the Office of the Ombudsman, has been reopened and the Public Ministry will continue investigating -August 11: A captain in the political-military section of Huancavelica issued order No. 189 ordering the media in the region to inform his office of their journalistic activities. However, the Ayacucho Headquarters quickly dismissed the officer. -August 12: Carlos Manuel Rosas Matos, director of the news show "Tigre Informa," of Radio Tigre in Iquitos, reported that his program was closed arbitrarily for broadcasting news from La Republica's Web site. The news concerned nepotism in the 5th Military Region. -August 21: Licensing of journalists is optional in Peru, under law 26937, promulgated in 1998. However, there have been incidents such as the following: Ricardo Marino Bu1l6n, news director of Radio Sefiorial, and director of the news show "Testigo de la Noticia" in Huancayo, was barred from practicing journalism for two years, given a two-year suspended prison sentence and fined 30,000 soles for slander and defamation against the president of the Huancayo Welfare Society. The judge based the sentence on the alleged mandatory licensing of journalists. -September 16: The interior minister ordered that Hugo Meza Layza of Chimbote be charged with "practicing journalism without a professional degree" and disseminating apparently false information about the police. -September 28: La Republica's correspondent in Jaen, Juan Sausa Sesquen, said he received a death threat after working with an investigative team from the paper in uncovering an alleged agent of the intelligence group Colina who was working as a bodyguard. -October 2: The publishers of the newspaper Referendum, a group of former journalists from Channel 2 who lost their jobs when it was seized, announced the closure of their paper. "We can assure you that there were pressures," said Fernando Viana, the editor. The printing plant, which was a partner of the newspaper, said it was owed substantial sums of money for paper and printing which had caused it to run up debts with the National Tax Office and two banks.