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Argentina23 September 2008

journalist who exposed corruption harrassed and threatened with death

Reporters Without Borders today voiced deep concern about repeated death threats made since May 2008 against Juan Parada, contributor to regional daily Río Negro and radio FM Patagonia, in Chos Malal, Neuquén province in the southwest.

The threats appear linked to his exposure of corruption involving local officials at the courts and the municipal authority as well as police excesses. Parada also gave evidence against the former head of LRA 52 Radio Nacional in a corruption case. He is personally convinced of the connection between his exposures and the threats.

Parada told the worldwide press freedom organisation on 3 May this year that he had received three phone calls at his home warning him to drop all his political investigations if he did not want to see “blood spilled”. In July he was ordered to stop his professional work and anonymous callers told him he would “pay for it”.

A few days before, advertisers also came in for intimidation aimed at getting them to stop advertising with the radio employing the journalist. His car was also stolen and damaged. These threats culminated on 5 September with a warning that he was going to be killed ten days later, on 15 September.

The journalist is now under the protection of the provincial police and he is convinced that his home is being watched. He said that a deputy who came to visit him discreetly to offer support was subsequently threatened. He is also concerned about the safety of his wife, a court administration employee, and his daughter, who was referred to in an anonymous call.

“Would Juan Parada have survived the murder threat against him if he had not been placed under police protection?” Reporters Without Borders asked. It is important to know this but that’s not sufficient. Investigators should examine the exposés which could be behind the terror campaign against the journalist as much as other possible leads.

“We urge the authorities to swiftly identify and punish the person or persons behind these threats”, it added.

Juan Parada is not the only journalist living with this kind of threat. Reporters Without Borders is also calling for light to be shed on a recent attack against the home of Edgardo Esteban, correspondent of Latin American TV channel Telesur, in Buenos Aires on 11 September 2008 (see the brief of 12 September 2008) as well as acts of sabotage against LRA 29 Radio Nacional San Luis, in the province of the same name in western Argentina.

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