AP photog in jeopardy in Nazca case

The Peruvian judiciary has linked an Associated Press photographer to the case against the environmental organization Greenpeace for alleged damage to Peru’s cultural heritage after activists Dec. 8 covered with a blanket part of the Líneas de Nazca archeological zone.

The Inter American Press Association Monday urged Peruvian prosecutors not to consider a criminal indictment of the photographer, Rodrigo Abd, on the grounds that restrictions on the movement and work of journalists are contrary to freedom of the press.

Abd has been wrongly linked to the criminal proceedings, said the journalism advocacy association.

In a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday it is expected that a Nazca local prosecutor, Patricia Begazo Villanueva, will call for the imprisonment of the photographer, whom she regards as an activist belonging to the environmental organization.

In a press release Santiago Lyon, Associated Press vice president and photography director, said that Abd is a photojournalist who works for the news agency’s Lima office. He declared, “He is committed to the AP’s highest standards of ethics and journalistic integrity…. Independent news organizations should be witnesses to news events without fear of interference or governmental reprisals.”

The Inter American Press Association president, Gustavo Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, declared, “We have been informed by AP that this is a journalist who was sent to the area to cover the event, so it is wrong that he be regarded as an activist.” He added, “Beyond the legal investigations into possible harm to the national heritage a reporter or photographer has the freedom, and should have the guarantees, to cover and take pictures of what occurs without any kind of hindrance or reprisals.”

Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the the press association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said, “The judiciary should respect the work of the press and should not consider a journalist in the exercise of his profession as if he were an activist.”

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