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Argentinian press team attacked by official's supporters in Brazilian airport

The Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA) condemns the violent attacks and threats against members of a Todo Noticias (TN) team, who were attempting to conduct an interview on 31 December 2013 with the head of the Argentinian Federal Revenue Administration (Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos, AFIP), Ricardo Echegaray, in the Río de Janeiro, Brazil international airport. The team, made up of reporter Ignacio Otero, cameraman Marcelo Funes and camera assistant Martín Magaldi, was punched, kicked, strangled, insulted and threatened. Funes' left eye was injured in the incident.

Otero told FOPEA that the attackers were people close to Echegaray, relatives and people known to the official, who were with him at the Brazilian airport. The assault was perpetrated by four people in clear sight of the official, while he was doing paperwork. “Echegaray saw the whole situation, he was a witness, he supported it and did nothing,” Otero said. The journalists were attacked at one of the entrances to the central hall of the Galeão International Airport, and at no point were police officers present to help the reporters.

The TN team was in Río de Janeiro doing a report on the work that Echegaray, and a group of about 10 family members, was developing in Brazil.

In addition to the attacks, the journalists were threatened (Echegaray's people said they would have "trouble with the AFIP" and "would face some problems upon their return to Argentina"), they tried to take away their cell phones and suggested that the journalists should not tell anyone what happened, in exchange for an interview with Echegaray in Buenos Aires. Otero said that the person who had lead the attackers was Jorge Lambiris, owner of the TWA Transportes company.

FOPEA's calls to Echegaray's spokespeople were not returned.

FOPEA stands with the TN team of journalists and asks that Echegaray and officials from the Argentinian embassy and consulate in Brazil clarify what happened.

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