Miami (October 16, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its satisfaction with the recent decision of the Second Court of Appeals of Guatemala in favor of journalist José Rubén Zamora. Last Friday, the court annulled the six-year prison sentence of the president and founder of elPeriódico and ordered a new trial.
The president of the IAPA, Michael Greenspon, stated that "the decision of the Court of Appeals reflects a significant step in the search for justice and the protection of freedom of expression in Guatemala." Greenspon, Global Head of Licensing and Print Innovation for The New York Times added: "We hope that a fair and transparent legal process can now be guaranteed, and we reiterate our call for Zamora to be immediately released."
After an appeal presented by the Attorney General's Office, the Court of Appeals of Guatemala on Friday annulled the six-year prison sentence imposed on journalist Zamora, who has been recognized globally for his tenacious reporting work against corruption. The appeal exposed a discrepancy with the original ruling that convicted Zamora of money laundering and acquitted him of charges of blackmail and influence peddling.
Carlos Jornet, president of the IAPA Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, indicated that "the court's decision is a positive fact in a judicial process that vices and irregularities of all kinds have plagued." Jornet, the editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, added: "We are convinced, as we have been denouncing, that Zamora's conviction has been in direct retaliation for his work and should never have happened. We hope that the flagrant violation of the right to defense will be reversed in the new trial and Zamora will be acquitted of all spurious accusations."
The IAPA has been denouncing the use of the Public Ministry (MP) of Guatemala as an arm of the political power of the government of President Alejandro Giammattei to file charges against Zamora's lawyers and block his possibilities of defense. The MP also accused six journalists and three elPeriódico columnists for giving their opinion on the case, including former IAPA president Gonzalo Marroquín Godoy, cousin of José Rubén Zamora. Due to political and economic pressures, elPeriódico ceased operations on May 15.
During the IAPA's visit to Guatemala in December 2022, the organization denounced the severe weakness and lack of independence of public institutions after holding meetings with officials of the Executive Branch and the Public Ministry and representatives of civil society organizations and human rights.
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.