Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora arrested in political crackdown


An award-winning journalist in Guatemala has gone on a starvation strike to protest his arrest by authorities amid rising indicators of a crackdown on political dissent within the nation.

José Rubén Zamora was arrested at his dwelling in Guatemala Metropolis on Friday night time as a part of an investigation into alleged cash laundering, blackmail and affect peddling, in accordance with prosecutors. Zamora denounced the fees towards him as a conspiracy, describing his arrest as “political persecution.”

Zamora is president and founding father of the newspaper elPeriódico, which has reported on suspected corruption inside the administration of President Alejandro Giammattei, together with within the prosecutor’s workplace.

In a video posted on Twitter on Saturday, Zamora stated he would start a starvation strike protesting his detention. Authorities additionally raided his newspaper’s headquarters.

In a separate submit, elPeriódico stated it will not be silenced regardless of what it stated have been “constant” assaults, persecutions and threats towards the paper and its president. “We have always believed in freedom of expression and worked to control power through journalism, against all odds,” the paper wrote.

Zamora’s arrest was condemned by human rights teams and the New York-based Committee to Shield Journalists, which gave Zamora its Worldwide Press Freedom Award in 1995 for his work advocating for press freedoms and combating censorship in Guatemala.

“Guatemalan authorities should immediately release and drop any criminal charges against journalist José Rubén Zamora, president of elPeriódico,” stated CPJ Advocacy Director Gypsy Guillén Kaiser in a press release late Saturday. “Judicial persecution against journalists is a mechanism of intimidation, and authorities in Guatemala need to put an end to their campaign to intimidate and threaten the press.”

In a video statement, Rafael Curruchiche, who leads the anti-impunity workplace in Guatemala, stated Zamora’s arrest has no relation in his capacity as a journalist.” He stated that he was being investigated in relation to “a possible act of money laundering in his capacity as a businessman.”

Curruchiche was positioned on a State Division checklist of “corrupt and undemocratic actors” from Central America earlier this month. The U.S. report accuses Curruchiche of obstructing investigations into acts of corruption “by disrupting high-profile corruption cases against government officials.”

Anti-corruption decide flees Guatemala regardless of U.S. efforts to guard her

A number of different senior Guatemalan officers, together with Legal professional Normal María Consuelo Porras, have been positioned on the checklist final yr. In Might, the State Division introduced extra sanctions towards her over allegations of “involvement in significant corruption.”

In March, one in every of Guatemala’s most essential judges and a key U.S. ally within the combat towards corruption resigned and fled the nation in a worrying signal of the deterioration of its judicial system.

The Biden administration has stated bolstering anti-corruption packages and enhancing governance in Central America are important to deterring unlawful migration, and has accused senior officers and politicians in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of corruption.

Guatemala isn’t the one Central American authorities cracking down on journalists. In Honduras, journalist Sonia Pérez is going through felony fees over her protection of police evictions of Indigenous folks, in accordance with CPJ. In El Salvador, authorities have successfully criminalized reporting on gangs, resulting in considerations about human rights amid a wave of arrests usually made with little or no proof.

Kevin Sieff contributed to this report.

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