Reporters Without Borders

Internet assault on investigative journalist

Internet assault on investigative journalist

Published on Wednesday 9 February 2011. Updated on Thursday 10 February 2011.
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A far-right wing group in Uruguay has mounted an Internet attack of intimidation on a journalist who specializes in investigations into the crimes of the dictatorship that ran the country between 1973 and 1985.

The group, calling itself “Freedom and Concord Forum” (Foro Libertad y Concordia), to be found on the social network Facebook, targets what it calls the “psycho-political war” against the government and legal system.

Journalist Roger Rodríguez, an expert on the period, attacked the campaign in the weekly magazine Caras y Caretas (http://200.40.211.253/detail.asp?IdEdition=102&NewsId=772&Portal=1) on 4 January and has since been the target of hatred and intimidation from the group.


Roger Rodríguez

In a statement posted 7 February on the forum’s Facebook page, someone calling himself Héctor Marcos Varela González gave full details about the private life of Roger Rodríguez, including the number of his identity card, where he lives and his telephone number. This identification was accompanied by abuse and threatening messages.

Reporters Without Borders joins the Uruguayan Press Association (APU) and human rights organizations in expressing its total support for Roger Rodríguez. “Our organization makes a solemn appeal to the Uruguayan authorities to guarantee the protection of the journalist,” the press freedom body said. “It also calls on Facebook to withdraw personal information that could endanger an individual as is the case here. This Facebook page deserves to be shut down because violates the use of a social network.”

In his article Roger Rodríguez detailed the way in which a network of those who were nostalgic for the dictatorship was formed, under the influence of retired military officers sentenced for human rights’ violations and now worried about a possible repeal of a prescription that assured their impunity since the return of democracy.

The forum is backed by other countries that were victims of the so-called Plan Condor in particular Argentina, and elsewhere in Latin America. It saw the light of day in December 2010 under the aegis of María Noel Larrosa Rombys, daughter of an officer facing serious charges of torture carried out under the dictatorship.

In April 2008 the Uruguayan legal authorities decided not to proceed with a libel case filed against Rodríguez by former military officer Enrique Mangini Usera, accused of the murder of a student in 1972.

This dark episode in the country’s history continues to expose journalists who want to talk about it to intimidation of threats.

This was the case in 2006 with Alfonso Lessa, who worked for the television station Canal 12 and the daily El País in Montevideo. Reporters Without Borders hopes that in this respect Uruguay will soon follow the same path as Argentina and Bolivia by declassifying the Plan Condor Plan archives.

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