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Nicaragua1 August 2002

Police chief apologises to journalists

Police chief Edwin Cordero apologised to journalists at a press conference on 31 July about the 18 July interrogation of journalist Luis Felipe Palacios of the La Prensa daily newspaper. The police chief recognized that his men did not respect procedure when they summoned Palacios for questioning and prevented La Prensa photographer Manuel Esquivel from taking photographs.

23.07.2002 - Journalist "invited" to reveal his sources

Reporters without borders has expressed its concern over the police interrogation of Luis Felipe Palacios, of the daily La Prensa, on 18 July 2002. The questioning came after Palacios reported on the involvement of a high-ranking military officer in acts of corruption. "Every journalist has the right to the protection of sources," declared Reporters without borders Secretary-GeneralRobert Ménard in a letter to Interior Minister Arturo Harding Lacayo. Headded, "Any journalist questioned about information gathered in the courseof their work has the right not to reveal their source," and "cannot be forced to reveal them."

Reporters without borders noted its concern about the legality of Palacios’s interrogation and asked Harding Lacayo to provide an explanation. The organisation also protested the fact that Manuel Esquivel, a camera operator for La Prensa, was forbidden from taking pictures during the interrogation.

According to information gathered by Reporters without borders, on 18 July, Palacios was summoned and interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Unit (Dirección de Investigaciones Criminales, DIC). The interrogation took place after an article published that same day revealed the alleged involvement of a high-ranking military officer in money laundering and arms trafficking. During the interrogation, the journalist was asked to reveal his sources. The chief of police, Commissioner Edwin Cordero, justified Palacios’s summons, stating that in drug trafficking matters, the police can act "as a matter of course," that is to say, without waiting for a judicial order. Esquivel, the camera operator for La Prensa who was accompanying Palacios, was forced to hand over the roll of film that he had used to take pictures during the interrogation. Deputy Commissioner Denis Tinoco Zeledón threatened to detain and start proceedings against him for taking pictures without asking permission.

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