Miami (December 12, 2020).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern about several cases that criminalize the work of Argentine journalists who investigate high-profile corruption cases, contradicting constitutional and international principles on freedom of the press and transparency.
Last week, in an unconstitutional outburst, federal judge Marcelo Martínez de Giorgi targeted the sources of investigative journalist Diego Cabot, from the daily La Nación. The judge ordered that the security videos of the area where the journalist met with one of his sources from "notebooks" be handed over to him, a case that uncovered one of the largest corruption schemes in recent decades in the country.
Jorge Canahuati, president of the IAPA, agreed with the national newspaper association (ADEPA in Spanish) and the national journalists' forum (FOPEA in Spanish) that the judicial decision "ignores the protection of journalistic sources protected by the Constitution." Canahuati regretted that the Argentine Judicial Power has "this type of setback" considering that has always shown respect for "constitutional and international principles on freedom of the press and transparency."
Carlos Jornet, president of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, added that "these cases, as well as the judicial persecution that we have pointed out on numerous occasions against Daniel Santoro, investigative journalist of the newspaper Clarín, accused of alleged crimes of coercion, extortion and espionage with their sources, show a pattern of judicial harassment with the intention of preventing investigative journalism from continuing its work."
Canahuati, president of Grupo OPSA, from Honduras, and Jornet, director of the newspaper La Voz del Interior, from Argentina, expressed that judicial decisions that contravene principles of freedom of expression "tend to inhibit journalism sources, precisely the most important element that it should encourage a government to fight corruption and to ensure transparency."
IAPA authorities also expressed concern about the case of journalist Irene Benito, of the newspaper La Gaceta de Tucumán, who is facing a criminal complaint for the crimes of fraudulent administration, attack on authority and coercion, as a result of her publications on the functioning of criminal justice and the relationship between the political and judicial powers. Her investigations served to uncover one of the biggest scandals involving justice and politics in the province of Tucumán.
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.