In spite of reporting based on official documents, Argentine journalist must pay damages

An Argentine journalist has been ordered to pay damages for a 2002 story reporting that a businessman was under investigation for tax evasion, in spite of the fact that the story was based on official documents, reported the newspaper La Capital.  The ruling against Adrián Murano, editor in chief of the magazine Veintitrés, stipulates that he must pay 50,000 Argentine pesos (USD $10,000) in damages to Enrique Estevanez, added the paper.

According to Murano, after the publication of the story Estevanez decided to sue not only La Primera magazine, which published the story, but also the author, added La Capital.

Sergio Szpolki, editor of the newspaper Tiempo Argentino and vice president of the group that Murano currently works for, said through social networks that Veintitrés “will take responsibility for the payments that the unscrupulous judge demands” of Murano, said the news website Impulso Baires.

The ruling has generated a backlash from journalists and civil society through opinion pieces and social networks.  According to the Collective of Press Workers of Argentina (CPT), the ruling is “a form of indirect censorship” and serves as “an economic gag,” reported state news service Telam.

Other organizations and journalists have decided to use Twitter to show their support for Murano, according to Tiempo Argentino.  One group, La Naranja de Prensa, advocated for “labor union action in [Murano’s] defense.”

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.