Arrest of journalist José Rubén Zamora is a turning point for press freedom in Guatemala, says HRW representative

"[...] The arrest of [journalist José Rubén] Zamora is a watershed event and may, according to Juan Pappier, of the international NGO Human Rights Watch, 'end up being a turning point for press freedom in Guatemala.' Pappier explains: 'It is probably the most serious event we have seen in recent years. Obviously, there were previously some spurious criminal proceedings against journalists, for example, against Juan Luis Font, Sony Figueroa or Marvin del Cid.' The HRW representative adds: 'But I think this has been taken to an even higher level and we may be facing a breaking point. A signal that generates a lot of fear for independent journalists who are still in the country investigating corruption.'

The reasons for the arrest of Zamora, 65, one of Guatemala's leading journalists, are not yet known because the Attorney General's Office has declared the case to be 'confidential.' However, the head of the case against the journalist, the head of the Special Prosecutor's Office Against Impunity (FECI), Rafael Curruchiche, revealed that this case is about 'money laundering.'

A deposition hearing is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 8. Zamora's house was raided by police while he was with his family, including his young grandchildren who were visiting while on vacation. The president of elPeriódico was transferred to the Mariscal Zavala prison and he was categorical in saying that he is the victim of 'political persecution.'"

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