25 July 2002


Journalist "invited" to reveal his sources

Incident details

Luis Felipe Palacios, Manuel Esquivel


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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has expressed its concern over the police interrogation of Luis Felipe Palacios, of the daily "La Prensa", on 18 July 2002. The questioning came after Palacios reported on the involvement of a high-ranking military officer in acts of corruption. "Every journalist has the right to the protection of sources," declared RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Interior Minister Arturo Harding Lacayo. He added, "Any journalist questioned about information gathered in the course of their work has the right not to reveal their source," and "cannot be forced to reveal them."

RSF noted its concern about the legality of Palacios's interrogation and asked Harding Lacayo to provide an explanation. The organisation also protested the fact that Manuel Esquivel, a camera operator for "La Prensa", was forbidden from taking pictures during the interrogation.

According to information gathered by RSF, on 18 July, Palacios was summoned and interrogated by the Criminal Investigation Unit (Direccion de Investigaciones Criminales, DIC). The interrogation took place after an article published that same day revealed the alleged involvement of a high-ranking military officer in money laundering and arms trafficking. During the interrogation, the journalist was asked to reveal his sources. The chief of police, Commissioner Edwin Cordero, justified Palacios's summons, stating that in drug trafficking matters, the police can act "as a matter of course," that is to say, without waiting for a judicial order. Esquivel, the camera operator for "La Prensa" who was accompanying Palacios, was forced to hand over the roll of film that he had used to take pictures during the interrogation. Deputy Commissioner Denis Tinoco Zeledon threatened to detain and start proceedings against him for taking pictures without asking permission.


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