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Press organizations request the release of the journalist and the EU and Wola urge that he be guaranteed security and due process

The capture of journalist José Rubén Zamora, founder of the newspaperlast Friday, July 29 has caused reactions from various sectors at the national and international level and this Monday August 1 andForeign press entities demand the immediate release of the president of that media outlet.

The Washington Office on Latin American Affairs (Wola in English) joined the various international calls that condemn the detention and criminal prosecution.

At the same time, the European Union has spoken out and urged the Guatemalan authorities to guarantee the journalist’s safety and due process and expressed its concern about press freedom in the country.

Zamora was arrested last Friday accused of allegedly committing the crimes of money laundering, blackmail, influence peddling, proposition and conspiracy for money laundering.

The International Press Institute (IPI in English), published this August 1 a statement on its website in which demands the immediate release of Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora.

“The IPI global network calls on the Guatemalan authorities to release and drop charges against journalist and IPI World Press Freedom Hero José Rubén Zamora, president and founder of IPI. the newspaper. Zamora was arrested at his home in Guatemala City on Friday on charges including alleged money laundering, racketeering and influence peddling. The newspaper and local press groups have described the arrest as an act of persecution and censorship against critical media,” the document reads.

“Authorities must immediately release and drop charges against José Rubén Zamora and refrain from abusing criminal proceedings to intimidate the press,” said IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen. “The IPI global network strongly condemns this serious escalation of pressure on the media in Guatemala. Harassment of critical media is unacceptable in a democracy,” the document states.

The letter recalls that Zamora has received numerous death threats and has been shot on more than one occasion.

“In 2003, Zamora and his family were held hostage in their home by armed men for several hours to get Zamora to stop publishing stories. In 2008, the journalist was kidnapped and beaten before being found unconscious on the outskirts of Guatemala City”, he details.

He adds that Zamora has received multiple awards in his career. In 2000, IPI named him a World Press Freedom Hero.

another pronouncement

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also called for Zamora’s immediate release, according to a July 30 publication.

“Guatemalan authorities must immediately release and drop any criminal charges against journalist José Rubén Zamora, president of the newspaper ” said Gypsy Guillén Kaiser, CPJ’s advocacy director in New York. “The judicial persecution against journalists is a mechanism of intimidation, and the Guatemalan authorities must put an end to their campaign of intimidation and threats against the press,” the statement quotes.

Pronouncement of the Wola

The Washington Office for Latin American Affairs (Wola in English), also published a statement to express its condemnation for the capture of journalist Zamora.

“Wola joins the various international calls that condemn the arrest and criminal prosecution of renowned Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora. and the assistant prosecutor Samari Carolina Gómez Díaz, as well as the attempt by the Public Ministry to financially drown the newspaper”, is explained in the letter.

He adds that a democratic system could not be consolidated without freedom of the press, without citizens having independent justice and without having access to means of expression.

attacks on the daily the newspaper and the arrest of Zamora are actions of an authoritarian state that does not comply with its international obligations in terms of human rights such as guaranteeing judicial independence, respecting the right to freedom of the press and refraining from interfering in the enjoyment of the same”, adds the statement.

He affirms that both Zamora -and the newspaper– “has played a fundamental role in investigating, reporting and revealing serious cases of corruption and the links of organized crime with the Guatemalan political class, who have been affected by their publications”.

“We call on the State of Guatemala to respect the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR and guarantee the physical integrity and life of José Rubén Zamora and prosecutor Gómez Díaz. Likewise, we urge the Judicial Organism to comply with the national and international legal system on the publicity of the processes, act objectively and maintain its integrity and independence,” the document adds.

It ends with a message of solidarity with the Guatemalan press and the entire Central American region for the attacks and persecution of which they are victims.

Statement of the European Union

The European Union (EU) on Monday urged the Guatemalan authorities to guarantee the safety and due process of journalist José Rubén Zamora, and expressed concern about press freedom in the Central American country.

“The arrest of renowned journalist José Rubén Zamora, founder and owner of ‘the newspaper‘, raises serious concerns about freedom of the press in Guatemala,” said Peter Stano, spokesman for the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, through his official Twitter profile.

The spokesman insisted that the Guatemalan authorities “must guarantee due process and security” for Zamora, as well as for the assistant of the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity, Samari Gómez Díaz, who was arrested on Friday along with Zamora under the accusation of revealing confidential information.

Zamora has been the winner, in 2021, of one of the King of Spain International Journalism Awards and has been a harsh critic of the president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei.

The journalist and the prosecutor will continue to be imprisoned after the suspension this Monday of the hearing in which they would give their first statement, a movement considered by various social organizations and other sources as a strategy to keep the journalist in jail.

Similarly, the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman, Jordán Rodas, assured this Monday morning that he did not know the whereabouts of Zamora Marroquín, who had to be transferred to the Judicial Branch first thing in the morning.

Zamora, founder of the newspaper “the newspaper” in 1996, announced this Saturday that he has declared a hunger strike in protest against his arrest and also said that he fears for his life.

The publications of Zamora and “the newspaper” In the last decade, various acts of corruption were evidenced in the governments of Otto Pérez Molina and his vice president, Roxana Baldetti (2021-2015), but also in the administrations of Jimmy Morales (2016-2020) and Giammattei himself.

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