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Peru18 September 2003

Call for parliamentary enquiry into spying on journalists

Intelligence chief resigns

Prime Minister Beatriz Merino announced at a press conference on 17 September that the government had accepted the resignation of Alfonso Panizo Zariquiey, the head of the Peruvian intelligence service, the CNI. The government had no intention of spying on journalists, she said. Panizo will be replaced by retired general Daniel Mora Zevallos, who will be the seventh person to hold the post in two years.


Reporters Without Borders today called for a parliamentary enquiry into alleged spying by the Peruvian intelligence agency, the Consejo Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), on journalists working for "Ventana Indiscreta" (Indiscreet Window), a programme on the privately-owned TV station Frecuencia Latina, and journalists with other TV stations. The allegations were made by Ventana Indiscreta in a broadcast on 14 September.

"The CNI’s alleged actions are serious because they jeopardise the confidentiality of sources, the cornerstone of press freedom and investigative journalism." Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to congressional president Henry Pease García.

"It is unacceptable that the CNI’s chairman, Alfonso Panizo Zariquiey, should try to justify the use of totally illegal and illegitimate methods by citing the need to identify those responsible for internal leaks," Ménard added.

In its 14 September broadcast, Ventana Indiscreta showed two internal reports allegedly written by the CNI. The first, entitled "Enrique 2003" and dated 18 August 2003, indicated there was a plan to identify government employees who were supplying the press with classified information on senior CNI officials.

It contained details (background, qualifications, address, phone numbers and e-mail addresses) of members of the Ventana Indiscreta team headed by Enrique Flor Zappler and it accused Flor Zappler of hiring private security companies with a judge’s complicity to tap the telephones of senior CNI officials and other officials.

The second report, entitled "Enrique II," covered the CNI’s surveillance of Flor Zappler and said there had been a "detailed investigation" of incoming and outgoing calls from the Ventana Indiscreta offices. Cecilia Valenzuela, the programme’s presenter, said the following journalists had also been subject to surveillance: Cesar Hildebrandt, presenter of the programme "La Boca del Boco" (The Wolf’s Mouth) on Frecuencia Latina; Juan Carlos Tafur, editor of the daily Correo; and Jaime de Althaus, presenter of the news programme "La Hora N" on the cable TV station Canal N.

In an interview carried by the daily El Comercio on 15 September, CNI chairman Panizo Zariquiey acknowledged that the reports shown on the TV programme were authentic when he said his intelligence agency did not want to target the press but just wanted to identify which of its employees were guilty of leaking information.

"The reports broadcast on Cecilia Valenzuela’s programme were leaked by employees of this agency who want to have my head and destabilize the CNI," Panizo Zariquiey said on Canal N. He also announced there would be an investigation into those who wrote the reports, and he claimed to have been previously unaware of their existence.

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