Miami (August 15, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) condemned the raid on the headquarters of the weekly Marion County Record and the home of its publisher in Kansas, United States, considering that it was an intimidating and disproportionate act, contrary to constitutional principles that protect press freedom.
On August 11, officers from the Marion Police Department broke into the office of the Marion County Record newspaper and the home of its owner and publisher, Eric Meyer. The police seized workers' computers, files, and cell phones. The raid originates in a lawsuit promoted by a restaurant owner who accused the newspaper of invading her privacy and illegally accessing private information.
"We reject the judicial and police intrusion into a media outlet without exhausting other legal resources to obtain the information," said Michael Greenspon, president of the IAPA. Greenspon, global director of Print Licensing and Innovation at The New York Times, called on authorities to avoid "violating constitutional principles on press freedom."
The president of the Press Freedom and Information Committee, Carlos Jornet, the editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, urged the authorities to "return the material and work equipment seized," considering the raid violated regulations on professional secrecy, protection of sources and the right to privacy.
Greenspon and Jornet backed the protest by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) and 34 media organizations and press freedom organizations who argued that the seizure "has materially interfered" with the publication's activities, which are "protected by the First Amendment."
The organizations stressed that federal law limits newsroom raids by national, state, and local authorities. The Federal Law for the Protection of Privacy of 1980 establishes exceptions; among them, Justice seeks to "avoid death or serious bodily injury to a human being" or for probable cause that the person seized committed or could commit a crime.
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.