In a request for protection, Chilean journalist Mauricio Weibel said he was not the only one facing intimidation for his investigations into the country’s military dictatorship.
After burglars broke into Weibel’s home last week and stole his laptop, on which he saved recordings from his investigation into the military’s secret service during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, the journalist and his colleague Javier Rebolledo presented an petition for preventative protection to the Appeals Court, according to Radio Cooperativo’s website. Thieves also stole a hard drive from Rebolledo, author of the book “La danza de los cuervos” (Dance of the crows), which tells the story of human rights abuses committed by the secret police, last weekend, added the website.
Weibel said that other journalists faced intimidation during the last 10 days, reported the newspaper La Nación and the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF in French). Unidentified callers phoned Carlos Dorat Guerra, co-author of a book with Weibel, but said nothing on the line. Thieves stole CDs and a computer from the home of Juan Cristóbal Peña, author of the book “Los fusileros, Crónica secreta de una guerrilla en Chile” (The riflemen, The secret chronicle of guerrilla fighter in Chile). Days later, a computer, external hard drive and a digital camera were stolen from New York Times correspondent Pascale Bonnefoy, author of the book “Terrorismo de Estadio” (Terror in the Stadium) .
“There is no longer any doubt about the aim of these thefts and acts of intimidation,” RSF said in its statement. “They are directly linked to the investigative work of these journalists, who have been threatened because they have been covering very sensitive subjects that directly concern the intelligence agencies. They and their families must be given personal protection quickly,” the organization added.
RSF pointed out that the third break-in at Weibel’s home occurred while he was under police protection and called for an internal investigation into how this could happen.
Prosecutor Andrés Montes opened an investigation into these acts of intimidation that “seriously undermine freedom of expression in Chile,” reported Radio Cooperativo’s website. Montes announced that a criminal investigation has been opened and that steps have been taken to clarify the facts and provide protection to the victims, the website added.
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.