Miami (March 1, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) condemned and demanded the immediate suspension of judicial harassment against journalists and collaborators of the Guatemalan newspaper elPeriódico, repeating a demand the organization made in December when visiting the Central American country.

Yesterday, in a surprise ruling, Tenth Criminal Judge Jimi Bremer linked the president of elPeriódico, José Rubén Zamora - imprisoned since July 2022 - to a second legal process for alleged obstruction of justice and ruled that he must remain in prison. At the same hearing and at the request of the Public Prosecutor's Office, he ordered an investigation of journalists and collaborators of elPeriódico for the crime of obstruction of justice and generating disinformation campaigns in the Zamora case. Among those accused are Julia Corado, editor of elPeriódico, Edgar Gutiérrez and Gonzalo Marroquín, columnists, and collaborating journalists Rony Ríos, Alexander Valdez, Cristian Velix, Denis Aguilar, and Gerson Ortiz.

IAPA President Michael Greenspon condemned the new accusations as judicial harrassment of journalists." Greenspon, Global Head of Licensing & Print Innovation for the New York Times, added: "As we warned during our December visit to Guatemala, 'the nature of the accusation and the irregularities that were reported in the Zamora case, raise concerns that there may be an attempt to mount prosecutions against other journalists who investigate and denounce the irregularities in the judiciary'."

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, added: "The warning we made after gathering first-hand information that the authorities would seek to censor critical journalists in the Zamora case has been fulfilled. Jornet, the editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, said that the case that has shocked the media community "requires more transparency and fairness, not a cloak of silence."

The IAPA executives said that the new restrictions on Guatemalan journalists contradict the principles of press freedom expressed in the Constitution and the national Printing Press Law, which governs resolving conflicts between authorities, private individuals, and journalists. They added that the limitations on journalists violate the freedom of expression of the declarations of Chapultepec, Salta, and Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Greenspon and Jornet were surprised that Gonzalo Marroquin was accused of obstruction of justice. "As former president of the IAPA and prominent journalist, he always stood out for his fierce defense for press freedom."

Zamora, an IAPA executive, has been imprisoned since July 29, 2022, accused of money laundering, racketeering, and influence peddling. elPeriódico ceased its print edition on December 1.

An IAPA international delegation visited Guatemala on December 8 and 9, 2022. Link to the press release.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.