Roque Azcurraire, a photographer with the community news website La Garganta Poderosa, was arrested in Villa 21-24, the Buenos Aires district where he lives, while filming the operation by members of the Prefectura Naval Argentina (PNA), a federal police special unit.
La Garganta Poderosa representative Ignacio Levy said the PNA agents had tried to intimidate minors who were due to be questioned as witnesses in an investigation into a case of alleged torture in which six members of the PNA are implicated, but the operation quickly degenerated.
Although they had no warrant, the police forced their way into Azcurraire’s home, where he lives with several members of his family. They hit him, insulted him, confiscated his equipment, and then took him and his brother-in-law back to their police station, where they held them for two nights on suspicion of “attempted theft,” and finally released them on 28 May.
“We condemn the unacceptable behaviour of these Argentinian police who not only had no warrant but also directly targeted a journalist who was trying to do his job to report the news,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “This was a serious press freedom violation. The justice system must identify and punish the police officers responsible.”
Several reporters were harassed and physically attacked by police during major demonstrations last year in Argentina, which is ranked 52nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.