Puerto Rico

No major incidents were reported during this period. A San Juan Circuit Court judge ordered reporter Cándida Cotto from the weekly Claridad to reveal a confidential source quoted in a report. Claridad and Cotto have been sued for libel by a former rector of the University of Puerto Rico at Carolina and his wife over quoted statements made by a confidential source. According to the newspaper the Court determined that the plaintiff is a public figure and as such should prove malice aforethought on the part of the publication and the journalist. However, it held that for the plaintiff to have an opportunity to establish such malice the journalist had to reveal the identity of her source so that the Court could determine its reliability. Electoral Inspector Manuel A. Torres prohibited news media from publishing announcements of a campaign of the Associaiton of Victims of Medical Malpractice critical of Governor Luis Fortuño for his having approved a regulation that is detrimental to its members in their claiming compensation for harm. The ban, which lasted a week from September 28, was contained in the dispatch by the Inspector of a “cease and desist” notification as the entity had not complied with the requirement to register as a “Political Action Committee” or as a “political party” to disseminate or publish that kind of announcement. The order was partially revoked on October 4, not before giving rise to a wave of questioning of the constitutionality of Law 222, a statute on which the official based himself for such an absurd and abusive intervention. On May 16, the Boston First Circuit Appeals Court, under whose jurisdiction is the San Juan Federal Court, upheld the sentence handed down by Chief Judge José A. Fusté in the case of the lawsuit filed by press organizations six years ago against agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over attacks on reporters and news photographers covering a raid being carried out by that agency. The journalists’ suit alleges that the FBI agents had hit them with pepper spray and excessive force, despite the non-existence of a perimeter limiting their access to the scene of the raid. The Appeals Court said in its opinion that there was that perimeter and that the journalists should have remained behind the gate giving access to the condominium where the raid took place. Similarly, it determined that this was a particular case in that it involved a terrorism suspect.