Reporters Without Borders

Danish embassy urged to react after security guards assault young photographer

Danish embassy urged to react after security guards assault young photographer

Published on Tuesday 24 May 2011.
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At the request of journalists’ organizations, press photographers and reporters are due to demonstrate outside the Danish embassy in Buenos Aires today in protest against a brutal attack by two members of the embassy’s security staff four days ago on Julian Herr, an 18-year-old photographer employed by the magazine El Guardián.

“We urge the Danish ambassador, Henrik Bramsen Hahn, to publicly condemn this assault and to review the embassy’s contract with the private security company that employs the two attackers,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We also think he should talk to the organizations taking part in today’s demonstration, which include the Press Workers Collective (CTB) and the Argentine Association of Photographic Reporters (ARGRA).”

In a statement sent to Reporters Without Borders today, the Danish ambassador condemned the attack, while insisting that neither embassy personnel nor embassy security personnel were involved.

Herr was taking photos for a gastronomy story about restaurants and dining clubs linked to embassies. After photographing without any problem at the Swedish embassy, he went to the Danish embassy on the afternoon of 20 May. When he sought permission from diplomatic staff, they told him he could not come inside but could take shots of the outside of the embassy.

“I had just pulled my camera out when I was approached by a security officer stationed at the entrance,” Herr told Reporters Without Borders. “I explained that I was a journalist and that I worked for a magazine, but the guy just insulted me more and more, invited me to fight and tried to grab my camera. Then another guy in civilian dress, without any identification, emerged from the embassy and both became more and more aggressive.”

Herr retreated to the far side of the street (Leandro N. Alem Avenue), but the two men followed him and continued to threaten him. “The security guard then returned to his post but the other guy in civilian dress head-butted me on the nose and punched me in the face.” After falling to the ground, Herr photographed his assailant, who left the scene by jumping on a bus.

Herr was taken to hospital with a broken nose that is preventing him from breathing normally and and will have to be operated on. The attack has been reported to the police and Reporters Without Borders hopes they lose no time in carrying out an investigation.

“Must embassy security staff be reminded that their job is to guard the embassy, not to assault people in the street outside,” Reporters Without Borders added. “This attack was a serious abuse of authority.”

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