The threats came within the space of a few days against reporters Germán de los Santos and Leonel Rodriguez following their reporting on organized crime and on a sex abuse case involving a local official.
De los Santos, the paper’s correspondent in Rosario, has for years been investigating drug traffickers in Santa Fe province, in the country’s north.
On 13 November, one of the criminal gangs called the reporter repeatedly to threaten him with death. The caller gave detailed descriptions of de los Santos’ daily comings and goings in detail and told him to drop his reporting on organized crime.
De los Santos filed an official complaint, and the government provided him with a police escort. The governor of Santa Fe, himself the target of an attack in October of last year, condemned the threats and expressed his solidarity with the journalist.
The threats against de los Santos followed by only a few days a similar move against another journalist from La Nación. On 8 November, Leonel Rodriguez, who is based in La Banda, in Santiago del Estero province, also in the north, reported that unknown persons left a miniature coffin in front of his parents’ home.
According to Rodriguez, the threat stemmed from his coverage of a sex abuse case involving a local official. Rodriguez said he received a series of threatening messages from false accounts on Facebook, telling him to stop investigating the case.
“Reporters Without Borders condemns the threats against the journalists from La Nación,” said Claire San Filippo, head of the organization’s Americas desk. “The Argentine government must absolutely conduct a thorough investigation and prosecute those responsible. Threats to journalists amount to violations of their basic rights. In addition, threats pose a danger to freedom of expression, as recognized by the Organization of American States’ Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression.”
November has also seen another serious blow to information freedom. Germán Sasso, director La Brújula 24, a radio station and website, faces legal proceedings for refusing to disclose his sources.
Sasso broadcast wiretapped phone conversations recorded in a money-laundering and drug trafficking case in which police and government officials are implicated. Source confidentiality is fundamental to press freedom and must never be subject to legal challenge.
Argentine ranks 55th of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index.