The IAPA Welcomes Judicial Decision in Guatemala to Grant House Arrest to José Rubén Zamora

The journalist remains in prison due to other pending charges.

Miami (May 15, 2024) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) hailed the decision of a Guatemalan court that unanimously granted house arrest today to journalist and founder of elPeriódico, José Rubén Zamora, who has been detained for more than 650 days without any reason. The organization urged the judiciary to order Zamora's immediate release.

The journalist remains in prison because he is facing two other judicial processes for alleged obstruction of justice, according to press reports. To obtain conditional release, he will need to receive similar benefits in the other cases.

The Ninth Criminal Sentencing Court ordered the conditional release of Zamora, 67, who has been in prison since July 2022 in retaliation for his journalistic work, after being accused of the alleged crime of money laundering. He was sentenced to six years in prison last June, in a process fraught with irregularities. Three months later, the sentence was annulled, and a new trial was ordered, which has been postponed several times.

"We welcome this first and necessary measure that we have requested since his imprisonment almost two years ago, but we insist on demanding his immediate release from the Mariscal Zavala military prison. His prolonged detention has been arbitrary and unjustified," said IAPA President Roberto Rock, director of the Mexican portal La Silla Rota.

Carlos Jornet, President of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, added: "We hope that the other appeals in the judiciary are resolved expeditiously, as Zamora has been a victim of all kinds of due process violations."

In early April, the IAPA presented an amicus curiae brief to the criminal chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of Guatemala, in defense of Zamora. It was argued that the journalist was deprived of liberty without a conviction, violating international standards on pretrial detention.

Hours before the judicial decision in his favor, Zamora had been honored with the Gabo Award 2024 for Excellence, among other international accolades. The publication he founded, elPeriódico, was forced to cease operations on May 15, 2023, due to political and economic pressures.

An international delegation from the IAPA and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) met in January with President Bernardo Arévalo, who referred to Zamora's case as "emblematic" of political persecution for his denunciations. On that occasion, the IAPA and CPJ delegates visited Zamora in prison. In December 2022, another IAPA mission attended one of the trial hearings and visited Zamora in his cell.

The conditions for the benefit of house arrest will include, among others, a prohibition on leaving the country, periodic signing of an attendance book at the Public Ministry and refraining from communicating with those implicated in the case. He must also pay 30,000 quetzales, equivalent to more than 3,800 dollars.

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.