Peru: journalists face possible jail terms for reporting military corruption

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on Peruvian defence minister Jakke Valakivi to withdraw complaints against journalists responsible for a TV broadcast about alleged corruption in the military intelligence service. They are charged with divulging classified documents, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Accused under legislation regulating “national security and treason,” the journalists named in the complaint are presenter Rosana Cueva, reporter Karina Novoa and all the other members of the team that helped produce the Panorama programme broadcast on 17 April.

The programme alleged that unjustified expenses were claimed by intelligence officers operating in the Valley of the Rivers Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro. Located in in south-central Peru and often referred to by the acronym VRAEM, it is the country’s biggest coca-growing region.

The report showed apparently falsified receipts and interviewed people who denied having received payments claimed in some of the receipts. The Panorama journalists insist that the documents shown in the programme contained no sensitive information about army operations.

We call on the defence minister to withdraw the complaints accusing the Panorama programme’s journalists of divulging classified documents,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America desk.

This prosecution has all the hallmarks of a reprisal against these journalists. Such disproportionate legal proceedings against the media have become more frequent in Peru in recent years, fostering a climate of self-censorship that is endangering freedom of expression.”

On 18 April, the journalist Fernando Valencia Osorio was given a 20-month suspended jail sentence and was ordered to pay the equivalent of 27,000 euros in damages to former President Alan García. A few weeks later, TV reporter and presenter Rafo León was also given a suspended jail sentence in a defamation case.

Peru is ranked 84th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

Publié le 07.07.2016
Mise à jour le 07.07.2016