Argentine judge requests personal information about journalists reporting on inflation

A judge in Argentina solicited personal information from every journalist that has written articles related to inflation in the South American country since 2006, reported the newspaper Clarín.

Judge Alejandro Catania Catania sent a letter dated Sept. 15 to the country's main newspapers asking for a roster with names, telephone numbers and addresses of the journalists, editors, and directors that had written about rising prices in Argentina. Cantina also investigated an accusation against Argentine economists for spreading alternative rates of inflation, reported the newspaper La Nación.

Guillermo Moreno, secretary of Domestic Trade, accused economists of allegedly violating a criminal law by estimating inflation in Argentina based on alternative price rates, according to the website iProfesional.com.

The majority of consultants use alternative price indices that vary from official numbers since 2006, when ex-President Néstor Kirchner's administration began to intervene in the official inflation index published by the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses, reported Reuters.

The Argentine Association of Journalistic Bodies protested that the inquiry amounted to intimidation, indirect censorship and an attack on the freedom journalists have to select their sources of information and publish on issues of public interest.

Argentina suffers some of the world's highest rates of inflation but the official numbers only reflect a third of the increase in prices, according to the country's economists.