PERU Press freedom violations reached a new low as the government waged a campaign against Frecuenda Latina, Canal 2 de Televisi6n to muzzle its programs, which had been critical of the administration of President Alberto Fujimori. The attacks on the press were the worst since coup-related censorship in 1992. April 6 - The history of the gagging began in April when Canal 2 reporters brought a camera into the Military Hospital to interview Leonor La Rosa, a convalescing non-commissioned army intelligence officer. During a furtive interview, she said she was tortured by the army and expressed fear for her life. She said that one of her army comrades, Mariela Barreto, had been murdered. The version was confirmed when, days later, her chopped-up body was discovered. La Rosa and Barreto were accused of leaking information to the media about an apparent plan, one of them codenamed Bermuda, to intimidate and cow the press as well as certain opposition. Under pressure from the independent press, a military tribunal weighed testimony from Rosa and ordered four Army intelligence officers arrested. No legal proceedings were allowed in civil courts. April 6 - Canal 2 reported it was being harassed by the government in different ways, including unusual inspection visits by the tax police. Following a complaint by Frecuenda Latina, Peru's prime minister opened an investigation into the matter. April 15, 1997 Four tax police offices who had "visited" the television station were dismissed. May 14 - After analyzing tax returns, Canal 2 reported that Vladmir Montesinos - a presidential adviser who is the strongman of the National Intelligence Service - had drawn legal fees of as much as $700,000 in 1995. May 24 - The situation escalated with the publication of a strongly worded communique by the Armed Forces Joint Chief of Staff, which stated that Canal 2 owner "Baruch Ivcher Brontstein, a naturalized Peruvian citizen, has used a media outlet to realize a campaign aimed at harming the prestige and image of the Armed Forces. With his negative attitude he has not hesitated to distort situations, twist the facts and disseminate commentary which is clearly meant to be malicious." There was also an effort to implicate other media in the alleged campaign. June 2 - In an effort to discredit Ivcher, the TV station owner was accused of selling arms to Ecuador. This maneuver collapsed when the documents said to implicate him were shown to be forgeries. June 2 - During a speech to the OAS Assembly meeting in Lima on the same day, the president questioned the ethical behavior of the press, a statement interpreted as additional pressure on Channel 2. June 11 - Pro-government legislators approved a resolution against the channel's "Contrapunto" program for having interviewed Ecuadorean Armed Forces of Chief Paco Moncayo in connection with Ivcher's alleged arms sale to that country. July 13, in the morning - The channel's "Contrapunto" program reported a large-scale government program to bug telephones. The program said it had obtained information about 197 cases of taped telephone conversations, 60 per cent of which involved journalists. According to the program, the bugging had been carried out by the National Intelligence Service. July 13, midday - A few hours after the program was broadcast, the government and military dealt a blow to press freedom. Army General Victor Huaman, the Interior Ministry's director of naturalization, revoked the Peruvian citizenship of the Israeli-born Ivcher. Huaman based his decision on alleged flaws in his naturalization paperwork 13 years ago. With this maneuver Ivcher's stock holding in the television station was thrown into judicial limbo; only Peruvians can own television stations. In that manner government-leaning stockholders were empowered to take control of the TV station. To revoke Iveher's citizenship, the government ignored three legal principles, among which was the constitutional tenet that no one can be deprived of his or her citizenship. In addition, a department head-level resolution such as the one issued by Huaman could not supersede the higher-level supreme resolution which granted Ivcher citizenship. Thirdly, even if errors existed in the naturalization process 13 years ago, the civil code provided for extensions to rectify any possible legal flaws. It was symptomatic that the Sunday edition of the official gazette El Peruano that carried the resolution stripping Ivcher of his citizenship was held back until 1 o'clock in the afternoon. It is presumed that the gazette was ordered to be printed only after the government verified that Canal 2 had broadcast the telephone bugging story in a morning show. It is worth noting that the Ivcher affair contributed to the first protest mareh against Fujimori that was not carried out under the banner of a specific organization. July 23 -The Ivcher case prompted an IAPA mission to Peru. It was received by President Fujimori and other important offiCials as well as opposition and pro-government legislators and civic organizations. They were not received, however, by as the military command and Montesinos, the presidential adviser and the strongman of the intelligence service. Tortured army agent Leonor La Rosa was visited in the hospital. The mission wrapped up its visit with a call on the Peruvian government to scrap" all situations which threaten press freedom and to investigate all attacks on the journalists and the media." However the mission added that it did not "ignore the fact that in Peru the media reports widely on all different kinds of subjects." In a surprise move, Judge Percy Escobar held back Ivcher's motion to restore his citizenship while accelerating legal steps empowering minority stockholders to take control of the television station. September 20 - Although none of the Canal 2 stories was shown to be wrong, businessmen Samuel and Mendel Winter, owners of 46 per cent of the stock, took provisional control of the channel under a resolution issued by the Lima Superior Court's Special Public Law Office. This tribunal issued a communique which stated that its judgment was based on incidental circumstances, given that the principal question - the validity of Ivcher's citizenship - had not been definitively resolved. October 10 - On the other hand, the superior civil prosecutor of Lima, Pablo Vizalot, has called for nullifying the resolution depriving Ivcher of his citizenship. Regarding the kidnapping of journalists: April 1 -Three gunmen kidnapped and held La Republica general publisher Blanca Rosales. They held for several hours but let her go when she identified herself as a journalist. Curiously, they did not steal her car nor her personal belongings. July 2 -Likewise El Ojo political page journalist Luis Angeles Laynes. He was severely beaten up by three assailants who also did not steal anything. The editor of the paper, Luis Agois, and the general editor, Agustin Figueroa, also said they had been targets of pressure and threats attributed to the intelligence services. April 8 - Reporter Gines Barrois was kidnapped by three hooded assailants. Moments before the abduction he was beaten up by some people tied to the Housing Fund, whose directors were being investigated for overvaluing electrification projects. He was freed after five days in captivity. Regarding assaults on journalists: March 19 -In Tingo Maria, three hooded attackers stoned Carlos Rupay, the evening newscaster of the local affiliate of America Televisi6n. Rupay had broadcast information on a series of irregularities committed by municipal officials and military officials. June 2S - Journalists of the TV program "En Persona" of Cesar Hildebrandt were assaulted in Chaclacayo by unknown gunmen who stole their video equipment. The journalist accused the intelligence service of being behind the assault. Regarding threats to journalists: April 7 - Police threatened to kill five journalists - Gudelia Galvez of Radio Ancash, Carlos Miranda of Radio Periódico Con taco, Andres de la Cruz of Canal Siete and Pedro Maguifia and Edgar Palma of the daily Ya. The threats were aimed at heading off coverage of the situation of eight minors in the city jail, where their mothers were imprisoned for links to terrorism. Mter violently entering newsrooms, police pointed guns at journalists in order to head off broadcast of the prisoners'accounts. June 19 - Hildebrandt of "El Persona" - who left the country for months last year for security reasons - said an intelligence agent had identified the person designated to murder him as a woman who was seven months pregnant. This development was probably yet one more action apparently undertaken by intelligence agencies to intimidate the press. Regarding actions and statements against the press: June 11 -Journalist Nicolas Lucar demanded the government halt TV ads which intended to portray some media organizations as liars intent on discrediting the military. His call was backed by opposition congressmen and other journals. Regarding detention of journalists and judicial actions against them: June 7 - Hildebrandt on his "En Persona" program displayed a handwritten letter by the president of Congress, Victor Joy Way, regarding the placement of state advertising. Joy Way responded that the document in question only amounted to notes from a meeting in which he was seeking to place advertising rationally according to technical criteria. However, a sense of concern and doubt has remained over this subject. August 17 - In Tacna, three reporters -- Raul Ascencios, Carlos Vargas and Rita Clemente, correspondents of the Lima channels Panamericana, Frecuncia Latina amd ATV - were arrested and accused of smuggling when they appeared at a police station in Paica, 30 miles to the northeast, to state they had found eight semi-buried barrels of oil that had been donated by the United States. April 18 - Congress struck down the second paragraph of Article 317 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which allowed judges to apply this old article promulgated in the era of a military dictatorship. When interpreted from an unconstitutional angle, the article barred a defendant from referring to the plaintiff. Just weeks before, this article had been invoked against the program "Revista Dominical" of Fernando Zevallos, currently sought by the courts in relation to a drug case. April 24 - In a hurried manner, the Congress enacted a Rectifications Law regulating the right to corrections in the media. This measure was passed at 5 a.m. Sixty-five congressmen from the progovernment Cambio 90-NM party and the government-leaning Renovación voted in favor, eight opposition lawmakers and five lawmakers abstained. April 30 -A few days later after a chorus of media protests, the then first vice-president of Congress, Carlos Torres y Torres Lara, announced that the controversial law would be modified and perfected. July 4 - Two months after the first law was passed, Congress approved an amended Rectification Law. Among the improvements was the specification that no right of reply was reqUired in the case of opinion pieces. September 24 - The Peruvian Press Council, an organizational dealing with journalistic ethics and the defense of the journalism profeSSion, was established. The creation of this Council aroused the concern of the members of the IAPA's Freedom of Expression and Information in line with the Association's position on the issue, as mentioned in the committee chairman's initial report. In this regard, the regional vice-president said, "The Press Council will speed up its membership program so that in a matter of months, the majority of Peruvian media would be signed up and the juridisction of the Ethics Tribunal would apply only to them." This was approved by the Committee. On September 28, Peruvian and Ecuadorean journalists signed a Letter for Peace and Transparency of Information. This calls on the press to strive for accuracy in reporting border issues and to control outside bias that tends to stir up militaristic conflicts.