PERU Threats and harassment of all kinds against journalists led to a visit by an OAS mission to probe human rights abuses in Peru. These aggressions against journalists, as well as fresh developments in the case of the ouster of the owner of Canal 2 TV, Baruch Ivcher, constituted the most significant attacks on freedom of the press from March to November of this year. Events of note were: March 23. In Pucallpa, an air force colonel who declined to identify himself orders the seizure and destruction of videotape shot by journalist Lino Campos Garda about the accident of A-37 plane in which two lieutenants died. During the episode, officers said that "the population does not have to be informed about the incident." April 5. Karin Sanchez Nunez, Milagros Coro Villafana, Nancy Moran Corso and Fernando Alva Pasache, report that they were the targets of threats. They all were members of the investigative reporting unit of Canal 2 TV (Frecuencia Latina) when it was headed by Jose Arrieta, who as a victim of persecution, is now in self-imposed exile in the United States. April 5. The editorial management of the Sunday supplement of El Comercio discloses that one of its journalists drew threats aimed at preventing publication of a report on "Plan Tsunami 97." This plan had been prepared by the government's intelligence services with the aim of intimidating Baruch Ivcher. On the same date, the Association of Radio and Television of Peru denounces the publication of Supreme Decree 005-98 MTC, which annuls the automatic renewal of operation authorizations for television news organizations. In this regard, it recalled that article 56 of the Communications Law states that" authorization is renewed automatically at the request of the interested party." It is evident that the decree would allow for political interference in the granting of TV licenses. April 10. Angel Paez, a reporter for the daily La Republica, reports the existence of a systematic campaign against investigative journalists who disclose any cases of corruption committed by members of the government and the leadership of the military. April 12. The host of the political radio program "Hora Clave," Diógenes Torres Agreda, asserts that he received anonymous telephoned death threats. He blamed them on Javier Kanashiro, the mayor of the Lima district San Martin de Porres. The mayor had previously fired gunshots at Torres Agreda, whose reporting he blamed for ruining his political career. April 15. The Peruvian Congress human rights commission resolves to request ample protection for La Republica reporters Angel Paez and Edmundo Cruz. They were invited to brief the panel on the threats and intimidation they were subjected to as a result of their investigative journalism. May 29. An official of the National Tax Administration Superintendency (SUNAT) visits the home of journalist Jose Arrieta Matos, aiming to obtain accounting data on the newsman, who formerly headed the investigative reporting unit of Canal 2's "Contrapunto" program. At the time of tax officer's visit, Arrieta Matos was in the United States seeking asylum, having fled Peru in January following harassment by security forces. Arrieta's lawyer said the tax official's visit constituted yet another attempt to intimidate the journalist, who does not own any business. May 29. Peruvian Army Gen. Homero Nurefia Le6n, who formerly headed the National Institute of Civil Defense (INDECI), accuses two EI Comercio reporters of seeking to extort $80,000 from him. Gen. Nurefia told Congress he had a tape of the extortion bid. This led Ricardo Uceda, the head of El Comercio's invstigation unit, to bring libel charges against the general in an ongoing trial. Gen. Nurefia dropped the charge. In a retraction, he told a criminal court that his remarks were misunderstood and that he never intended to attribute dishonest behavior to the El Comercio reporters. June 3. In the Ecuadorean capital of Quito, EI Sol journalist Jose Jara and photographer Esteban Felix are physically mistreated and forced to surrender two rolls of film. The two newsmen, who were on assignment to cover the Ecuadorean-Peruvian border problem, were also forced to virtually strip nude in a bathroom. The mistreatment led to the intervention of the president of Ecuador and consequently, apologies were offered to the journalists. July 6. Congresswoman Martha Chavez says she has presented a draft bill regarding constitutional exceptions to the right to privacy. This raises serious concern because some of the provisions touch on press freedom. July 16 . The U.S. Justice Department grants asylum to Arrieta Matos on the grounds of political persecution. August 5. In Piura, two La Republica journalists were arbitrarily arrested by Navy personnel when they were investigating reports by local residents that military forces were wiping out campaign advertisements by an anti-government candidate. August 22. Journalist Cesar Hildebrandt was sued by Santiago Sanguinetti - a lawyer known for his indiscriminate filing of lawsuits - for having disseminated information emanating from a secret session of Congress. The information, which had been freely provided to the journalist, did not pose any danger for national security. September 9. Peru's Supreme Court reverses the acquittal of Ethel Guido and six military personnel on terrorism charges arising from an assault on a Global Televisión affiliate in Puno. October 4. Peru's main news organizations called on the government and the Ad Hoc Pardons Commission to examine the cases of six journalists who have been unjustly imprisoned. They are Hermes Rivera Guerrero, Javier Tuanama Valera, Pedro Carranza Ugaz, Anero Gargurevich Oliva, Juana de la Matta Jara Berrospi and Augusto Llosa Giraldo. November 4. La Republica editor Gustavo Mohme Llona reports receiving a death threat from the "April 5" commando. In a series of telephone calls, the group demanded that he cease publishing information about the visit of an OAS delegation investigating human rights abuses and violations of press freedom. November 5. Underscoring the existence of Peru's outrageous harassment, members of the OAS human rights investigation mission receive death threats while in their own countries. November 13: Journalist Jose Cabada of Pern de los 90, which is published in the United States, complained that he was the victim of a conspiracy against his publication by Peru's diplomatic services, which charge the publication is campaigning against them. He said the consulates have defamed his name and that of his publication. There were developments on five fronts in the case of the ouster of Baruch Ivcher, who lost ownership of Canal 2 in a takeover by minority shareholders. The government's July 1997 move to strip Ivcher of his Peruvian citizenship also deprived him of Canal 2 because only Peruvians can own television stations. Other key aspects of the Ivcher matter are the rights of Ivcher's wife Noemy (who being Peruvian has no reason to have lost control of her stock), a customs duties fraud case involving an Ivcher-owned firm Productos Paralso del Peru, the case pending before the OAS' Inter-American Human Rights Commission and a criminal charge against Mrs. Ivcher for premature transfer of 20 shares in the television company to four daughters It is symptomatiC that all the Ivcher-related trials are advancing at an accelerated pace. In one of them, the proceedings run 12 straight hours a day, seven days a week. Regarding the customs tax case, the supreme court heard charges that Ivcher had inflated prices for imports for his mattress factory. It was not clear why he would have inflated invoices since that would oblige him to pay higher duties. In any event, as an already-convicted felon, Ivcher cannot return to Peru since he would be arrested on the spot. He also is at risk in other countries. On another front, Mrs. Ivcher is winning the right to represent the total amount of stock (54 percent) held by the couple in the television station. Nevertheless, Canal2's management has filed for injunctions to prevent implementation of the rulings which supported Mrs. Ivcher. Still more complex is the criminal case for the transfer of 20 shares (of the 29 million shares outstanding in the company), which were granted years ago to the couple's daughters as part of their future inheritance. While judges interpret the statutes and examine the manner of the transaction, the public at large is trying to understand why there is so much preoccupation over 20 shares. The complaint filed by Ivcher before the Organization of American States is a much more complex front for those responsible for the seizure of Canal 2, especially because they cannot control it. A mission from the OAS was in Lima in early November investigating human rights abuses and violations of press freedom, including the Canal 2 case and others involving the press. It is going to be very difficult for the government to explain why it occurred to an immigration official, who was evidently very zealous, to review the Peruvian naturalization documents of Ivcher 15 years after he became a citizen following his emigration from Israel. The directorial-level resolution depriving him of his citizenship Oddly annulled a higher-level supreme resolution, which had granted Ivcher his Peruvian nationality. The stripping of Ivcher's citizenship and the consequent change in control of Canal 2 led to a change in the station's line, which had been anti-government.