Journalist jailed for defamation in Dominican Republic goes free, but still awaits trial

Dominican TV journalist José Agustín Silvestre de los Santos, who is facing a defamation trial after accusing a prosecutor of supposed ties with drugtrafficking, was set free after six days in jail and after posting a $3,800 bail, reported Reporters Without Borders (RSF). However, Silvestre de los Santos, the host of the television program "The Voice of Truth" for the regional channel Cana TV in the Dominican Republic, still must appear before authorities in 30 days for the trial against him to continue.

Silvestre de los Santos was sent to jail May 27 even though he voluntarily appeared before the court, reported Hora Cero. The reporter was beaten by security guards and shots were fired at his house after his statements against prosecutor José Polanco, explained IFEX.

RSF, besides criticizing the journalist's arrest and demanding his immediate release, warned that "a prison sentence would represent a serious threat to press freedom, considering the country has embarked on the path of de-criminalizing opinion."

In an editorial, El Nuevo Diario in Santo Domingo characterized the situation of Silvestre de los Santos as an "irony" just when the Dominican Republic is celebrating this year the 50th anniversary of the fall of the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.

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.