Afrique Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Peru13 February 2003

Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists send letters to Peru’s justice Minister about journalist’s imprisonment

Paris, 13 February 2003

Dear Mr. Dodero,

Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists are writing to inquire about the status of journalist Juan de Mata Jara Berrospi, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 1994 on charges that he collaborated with terrorists.

On July 10, 1993, Jara Berrospi was arrested in the district of Comas, north of Peru’s capital, Lima. When he was arrested, authorities found maps and negatives showing where nine students and a professor of La Cantuta University, who had been murdered, had been buried, in his possession. The police believed that Jara Berrospi was going to publish the information contained in those maps and negatives-which suggested that Peruvian paramilitary members were responsible for the killings-in El Diario, a newspaper that had been banned in 1989 by President Alan García’s government because of alleged links to the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) terrorist group. Moreover, authorities said Jara Berrospi had been frequently visiting El Diario’s offices, and they believed he was on the newspaper’s staff.

Allegedly, no one testified against Jara Berrospi at the trial. During the trial, the journalist denied any involvement with the terrorist group. He also claimed that the maps and the negatives had been placed anonymously in his yard. And according to several sources, a television station released the maps and negatives on television two days before the journalist was arrested. On November 16, 1994, Jara was sentenced to 20 years in prison by an anonymous panel of judges and placed in the Miguel Castro Castro maximum-security prison in Lima. Various attempts to appeal the verdict have been unsuccessful, and reviews for a presidential pardon failed to result in his release.

Prior to his arrest, Jara Berrospi worked for several years as a producer for Radio Comas and wrote for the dailies El Heraldo Huanuqueño and El Informador. Jara Berrospi also wrote for El Diario in 1987, two years before the paper was officially banned.

From July 9 to July 11, 1993, ten individuals were arrested for having connections with El Diario. With the exception of Jara Berrospi, all have been pardoned and released from jail: Six were released two weeks after being arrested, two were released in 1994, and two were pardoned-one in 1998 and one in 2001.

As organizations dedicated to protecting press freedom worldwide, Reporters without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Juan de Mata Jara Berrospi’s imprisonment. We urgently request that you make available to us any additional information you might have regarding his case. Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We await your response.


Robert Ménard, General secretary

In this country
13 January - Peru
In highly suspicious move, terrorism charges brought against left-wing investigative reporter
11 December - Peru
President says jailed TV host should be freed
19 September - Peru
Death threats made against journalist specialising in highly sensitive investigations
9 September - Peru
Impunity blamed for a new wave of threats and attacks on provincial journalists
6 May - Peru
Editor of weekly forced into hiding after death threat

in the annual report
Peru - Annual Report 2008
Peru - Annual report 2007
Peru - Annual report 2006

14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro