After forcing their way into the building, the intruders destroyed most of the newspaper’s installations and equipment. According to witnesses, there were police officers outside the building when the attack took place but the three newspaper employees who were there at the time say the police did not intervene.
The group of intruders reportedly included Mariano Martínez Rojas, a businessman who claims to be the newspaper’s current owner.
El Tiempo Argentino was owned until recently by a company called Grupo 23, which stopped paying the salaries of the newspaper’s more than 200 employees last December as a result of a grave financial crisis
Grupo 23 announced a few months later that it had sold El Tiempo Argentino and Radio América to Martínez but Martínez has not yet been able to legally demonstrate that he is in the new owner. With the labour ministry’s approval, El Tiempo Argentino’s journalists formed a cooperative in April with the aim of keeping the newspaper alive and holding on to their jobs.
“We firmly condemn this brutal attack on El Tiempo Argentino’s headquarters,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk. “Destroying the equipment and premises of a media outlet that is already fighting for survival is an act of the utmost cowardice and a grave violation of freedom of expression.”
The prosecutor in charge of investigating the case has issued summonses to Martínez and other persons identified as participants in the attack. According to the Argentine Journalists’ Forum (FOPEA), Martínez stormed into the headquarters of Radio América on 11 June and forced it to stop broadcasting.
Argentina is ranked 54th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.