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Reporting on FIFA scandal costs newspaper official advertising contract

Jeffrey Webb
Jeffrey Webb

AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern and condemned the fact that legislators in the Cayman Islands had approved withdrawal of official advertising from the newspaper Cayman Compass in retaliation for an editorial that criticized the Premier and local officials for allegedly engaging in acts of corruption, among them one related to the FIFA soccer scandal.

IAPA President Gustavo Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, condemned "the lack of independence of the legislators who, in order to ingratiate themselves with the Premier, approved the suspension of placing official advertising and any other commercial activity with the islands sole newspaper, directly impacting freedom of expression and the people's right to have access to information of public interest."

The editorial published on June 3 suggested that the government acted rather slowly in responding to accusations of alleged bribery and corruption within FIFA (International Federation of Football Associations), and specifically against Jeffrey Webb, head of the local association and president of the Football Confederation which comprises North America, Central America and the Caribbean, who was arrested on May 27. The newspaper said that corruption was so prevalent in the Cayman Islands that it called it "an insidious common crime".

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, referred to "the abuse of privilege and the manipulation of the legislature over an editorial denouncing corruption". He declared that "the placement of official advertising should not be used to award or punish media or journalists," as established by Principle 7 of the Declaration of Chapultepec.

Premier Alden McLaughlin accused the newspaper of having carried out "a full frontal assault on the Cayman Islands and its people," and supported the economic sanctions against it.

Cayman Compass co-publishers David R. Legge and his wife Vikki were placed under police protection, and by the weekend had temporarily left the country, according to local media.

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