José Rubén Zamora Marroquín: Guatemalan authorities raid newspaper workplaces and detain journalist

Authorities say that Zamora, who’s the director of the newspaper El Periódico, is suspected of involvement in a cash laundering case.

However his son José Carlos Zamora advised CNN that he believed the arrest was an act of retaliation, and an try at censorship as a result of newspaper’s criticism of President Alejandro Giammattei’s authorities.

Zamora “is one of the main critics of the government of Alejandro Giammattei, and his arrest took place five days after strong complaints against several officials and former officials for corruption in a Sunday section of the morning paper,” El Periodico stated in a press release posted on Twitter.

Zamora’s arrest “is not related to his activity as a journalist,” particular prosecutor Rafael Curruchiche advised radio station Emisoras Unidas.

Authorities raided the newspaper’s workplaces and Zamora’s dwelling earlier than arresting him, Curruchiche additionally stated.

CNN has requested prosecutors for extra info however has not but obtained a response. CNN has additionally reached out to Zamora’s authorized illustration however has not but obtained a response.

“Guatemalan authorities should immediately release and drop any criminal charges against journalist José Rubén Zamora, president of elPeriódico,” stated Gypsy Guillén Kaiser, the Advocacy Director of the Committee to Defend Journalists.

The US State Division’s undersecretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, Brian Nichols, additionally spoke out towards Zamora’s detention on Twitter, urging Guatemala towards “full respect of due process.”

Freedom of the press is enshrined in Guatemala’s structure. Nonetheless, journalists have been more and more focused for his or her reporting in recent times, in line with press freedom group Reporters with out Borders (RSF).

“Journalists and media outlets who investigate or criticize acts of corruption and human rights violations frequently suffer aggression in the form of harassment campaigns and criminal prosecution,” RSF stated.

The group ranked Guatemala 124 of 180 international locations worldwide on its annual Press Freedom Index in 2022.

Many journalists in Guatemala really feel they’re being watched, stated Evelyn Blanck, a journalist and coordinator of Centro Civitas, a corporation for freedom of expression.

“Now we are watching the reaction of El Periódico. And since (police) also raided the newspaper’s facilities and were there for more than 12 hours, we want to know if they took documents, we want to know if they touched the equipment. In other words, we are concerned about the security of the newsroom,” Blanck advised CNN.

She additionally pointed to a pattern of assaults towards the press elsewhere within the area — citing the instance of Nicaragua particularly, the place arrests of critics and newsroom raids have been repeatedly documented because the nation’s mass protests in 2018.

“My opinion is that what has happened is that these anti-democratic actors have carefully viewed [Nicaraguan President Daniel] Ortega’s actions and have also evaluated the international reaction. And in that sense, the case of Nicaragua has been a precedent for what has now happened in El Salvador, in Guatemala.”