Argentine journalist Damián Pachter has been forced to leave his country out of fear of being a victim of reprisals and at the same time, echoing local press associations, blasted state agencies for broadcasting the reporter’s itinerary.
Pachter, a reporter with the English-language newspaper Buenos Aires Herald and a stringer for the Israeli paper Haaretz, was the first to give the news of the death of public prosecutor Alberto Nisman on his Twitter account. Pachter, also of Israeli nationality, arrived in Tel Aviv at the weekend shortly before declaring to Argentine media that “my life is in danger.” He felt he had ruined something for them, linking his fears to the Tweets he had written about Nisman’s death.
Gustavo Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, expressed his solidarity with Pachter, who he understood had “sought to protect himself in the face of uncertainty and defenselessness that comes from this case.” Mohme is president the Inter American Press Association. He urged the government of President Cristina Kirchner to act on “its obligation to investigate whether a real risk for the journalist exists and ensure his safety, and that of any other citizen in similar circumstances.”
Outside the rules governing personal information the official news agency Télam published Pachter’s travel itinerary that had been obtained from the state airline Aerolíneas Argentinas. The information was replicated by the federal government on its Twitter account.
The chairman of the press association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, declared, “To disclose personal data through state agencies is an act of irresponsibility and unlawful that must be investigated and punished urgently.” Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added, “This case shows serious aggravating circumstances, thus our deep concern, considering that there are complaints about groups said to be acting outside the law and the lack of protection that has been endured by wide sectors of the press in the face of actions in which the government itself has been involved.”
In an article that he wrote for Haaretz Pachter disclosed that before leaving the country he was trailed by an unidentified man who was a security agent according to his news sources.
Nisman, the public prosecutor in charge of investigating the attack on the Argentine Mutual Israeli Association, died in unclear circumstances at his apartment in Buenos Aires the day before he had been due to go before congress to give a report on his denunciation. He had been called to expand on and clarify his complaint against President Kirchner and other officials whom he had accused of covering up employees of the Iran government in having planned and carried out the attack on the Israel association in 1994 in which 85 people were killed and more than 300 injured.