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Peru26 May 2004

Court lifts ban preventing British journalist from leaving the country

Judge Alfredo Vladimir Catacora Acevedo on 25 May lifted restrictions on Sally Bowen that had banned her from leaving the country, put her under legal supervision and obliged her to seek the judge’s permission each time she wanted to travel outside the capital Lima. The judge relaxed a summons against her that included these restrictions, replacing it with a simple summons.

25.05.2004 - British journalist banned from leaving country

Reporters Without Borders has protested after a court in Lima banned British journalist Sally Bowen from leaving the country. She was also placed under legal supervision and can only leave Lima under certain conditions.

"Our organisation views the restrictions placed on Bowen as excessive," Reporters Without Borders said. "It comes to the same thing as preventing her from doing her job," it pointed out in a letter to the judge, Alfredo Vladimir Catacora Acevedo, who made the ruling.

"These restrictions are contrary to Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights ratified by Peru and which allows anyone the right to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers," it added.

Lima’s criminal court 11 issued a "restricted" summons against Bowen, former correspondent in Peru of the British daily The Financial Times and co-author of a book "The Imperfect Spy", on 20 May 2004. Among restrictions imposed on the journalist is a ban on leaving the country, a requirement to seek permission to leave the capital and to sign a legal register monthly to prove her presence in Peru.

The judge’s ruling was linked to a libel complaint against Bowen by Fernando Zevallos, founder of the Peruvian airline Aerocontinente. In her book, the journalist quoted Oscar Benites Linares, an ex-member of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), now in prison, who accused the businessman of involvement in the alleged reorganisation of drug-trafficking by former intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos. Zevallos has filed a 10 million-dollar libel suit against the journalist.

Reporters Without Borders said it welcomed the fact that Ms Bowen will appear in court again on 25 May so that she could leave Peru on the same day. But it added, "Our organisation nevertheless calls on you to modify her summons to one without conditions, thus complying with Peru’s international commitments."

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