Press group condemns disrespect of paper

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has condemned an act of aggression by the chief of staff of Argentine’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who tore up pages of the newspaper Clarín during a public meeting held at the government headquarters in protest at articles written by three of the paper’s journalists.

Association President Gustavo Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, said he regretted that “the President Kirchner’s government involves the press in an alleged political confrontation, discrediting the media as political opponents, instead of regarding them as an instrument watching over those in power as occurs in democratic societies.”

Monday during a press conference in which he complained of a political confrontation by opposition media Chief of Staff Jorge Capitanich in front of television cameras tore up two pages of Clarín which on Sunday had published articles about the death of public prosecutor Alberto Nisman written by reporters Nicolás Wiñazki and Daniel Santoro and columnist Eduardo van de Kooy in which there was a reference to alleged statements made by Capitanich about the coverage by the press of Nisman’s death.

The chairman of the association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, declared, “It is a disgrace that President Kirchner and her closest collaborators fall into the despicable practice that is frequently and enthusiastically engaged in by Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, one of the worst predators of freedom of expression in the Americas.”

He added that the Argentine government “should not fall into the temptation of accusing and discrediting journalists in public acts of sarcasm, as bellicose and confrontational speeches tend to incite violence.”

Mohme and Paolillo said that this act of disrespect of the press “cannot be taken lightly, when in Argentina regrettably journalists have exposed to other governmental actions that go against freedom of the press, such as cases of spying on the media, symbolic trials of journalists and acts of violence.”

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