Reporters Without Borders voiced shock at yesterday’s claims by two broadcast journalists, Radio Mitre reporter Ernesto Tenembaum and América TV producer Luis Majul, that their personal e-mail accounts were hacked and used to send messages to other people. This follows a similar case, reported on 11 May, involving Daniel Santoro of the Clarín daily newspaper.
The press freedom organisation said it hoped a statement by presidential chief of staff Alberto Fernández condemning these practices would be quickly followed up by an investigation at the highest level.
Tenembaum said during his Radio Mitre programme yesterday that some of his e-mail messages, containing off-the-record exchanges with officials and judges, had been sent from his own e-mail address without his knowledge to members of the government and other journalists.
He said he discovered this from fellow-journalist Marcelo Slotogwiadza, who had himself received by e-mail part of Tenembaum’s exchanges with interior minister Aníbal Fernández, supreme court justice Eugenio Zaffaroni, Quilmes mayor Jorge Villordo, former judge Pablo Lanusse, and Santoro, the first journalist to report that his e-mail had been hacked.
Majul, who is the producer of the programme “La Cornisa,” said that on 21 May he discovered that a message containing the e-mail addresses of leading political and business personalities had been sent to some of his contacts from his own e-mail address. He told Reporters Without Borders that this kind of manipulation happens “whenever there is tension between the press and the authorities.”
Tenembaum and Majul plan to file complaints claiming violation of their private correspondence with judge
Guillermo Montenegro, who is already investigating the Santoro case. Both Tenembaum and Majul have suggested that the intelligence services could be involved, although the president’s chief of staff ruled this out.
18.05.06 - Newspaper reporter’s exchange of e-mails with judge is stolen
Reporters Without Borders today condemned a case of electronic theft and spying on reporter Daniel Santoro of the Clarín daily newspaper, which reported on 11 May that his entire exchange of e-mail messages with judge Daniel Rafecas about a drug trafficking case the judge is handling was stolen and copied to the lawyer of one of the defendants.
“Santoro is right to consider the theft of his e-mail as a violation of the confidentiality of his sources,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We support Santoro and Clarín in this case and we hope the authorities will quickly establish how and by whom copies of Santoro’s e-mail messages were sent to one of the defendants’ lawyers.”
The so-called “Viñas Blancas” case concerns an alleged attempt by two Serbian citizens to smuggle 171 kg of cocaine to Europe. Copies of all the e-mails between Santoro and the judge somehow landed on the desk of Juan Manuel Ubeira, the lawyer acting for one of the two Serbs. The oldest dates back to 1 March, four days before Clarín ran its first report by Santoro on the case, which focused on the lavish marriage of one the defendants in a hotel.
“I am very surprised the information stolen from me reached the lawyer of one of the two defendants,” Santoro told Reporters Without Borders. “What worries me even more is that I have been spied on for almost two months.”
In Santoro’s view, the e-mail correspondence was stolen with the aim of discrediting the judge and sabotaging the judicial investigation. He said Clarín’s computer system was complex and that significant financial and technological resources must have been used.
Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli has asked judge Guillermo Montenegro to establish whether there was a violation of a law on the privacy of correspondence. Until now, the law has applied only to postal correspondence and a legal precedent will be set if it is deemed to cover Santoro’s e-mail.
With the support of his newspaper, Santoro has meanwhile filed a complaint alleging a violation of the confidentiality of a journalist’s sources, which was recognised by a constitutional amendment in 1994.