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Chile - Intimidation of journalists who investigate military dictatorship

Source: Reporters Without Borders - Tue, 18 Dec 2012 03:21 PM
Author: Reporters Without Borders
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Reporter Mauricio Weibel, who has been hounded over a book published in October entitled "Illegal association: the dictatorship's secret archives," is not the only journalist to have been the victim of threats and break-ins for writing about the former military dictatorship. Carlos Dorat, who co-authored the book with Weibel, has received phone calls from unidentified persons who say nothing when he picks up. Javier Rebolledo, the author of a book entitled "Dance of the Crows" about human rights violations by the secret police, had his computer hard disk stolen. Cristobal Pena, the author of a political thriller entitled "The Gunmen" set during the dictatorship, had his entire computer stolen. Pascale Bonnefoy, who Reporters Without Borders defended in 2010 after a lawsuit was brought against her by a former military officer from the Pinochet era, had her computer, an external hard disk and a camera stolen a month ago. "There is no longer any doubt about the aim of these thefts and acts of intimidation," Reporters Without Borders said. "They are directly linked to the investigative work of these journalists, who have been threatened because they have been covering very sensitive subjects that directly concern the intelligence agencies. They and their families must be given personal protection quickly. "Nonetheless, the third break-in at Weibel's home took place at a time when the police were already watching his home. This failure in the security he had been granted is disturbing and should perhaps be the subject of an internal investigation within the police and intelligence services." The correspondent of the German news agency DPA and Reporters Without Borders and president of the South American Press Correspondents Union, Weibel was the victims for three intrusions and burglaries at his home from 14 to 16 December. His car was stolen from outside his home on 14 December and was found by police later the same day in La Cisterna, in the southern part of the capital, completely dismantled. A few hours after the vehicle's theft, an individual wearing the uniform of a member of the carabinero police went to Weibel's former home and asked the concierge for information about his family. This individual refused to identify himself and left in a taxi. The next day, intruders stole two laptops from Weibel's home containing the files from his investigations into the role of the intelligence services during the dictatorship. The same afternoon, friends of the family surprised a man taking photos of the house. He fled when asked to identify himself. A third break-in took place on 16 december, although the police had already ordered patrol cars to keep an eye on the home. This time, an individual entered the home while Weibel was talking on the phone to interior minister Andres Chadwick, who had promised to guarantee his security. 16.12.2012 - Break-in at home of reporter who probed military intelligence activities Reporters Without Borders urges the Chilean authorities to conduct a full and rapid investigation into yesterday's burglary of the Santiago home of Mauricio Weibel, the correspondent of the German news agency DPA and Reporters Without Borders and president of the South American Press Correspondents Union. It was no ordinary burglary. Those who broke into Weibel's home knew what they wanted and found it - Weibel's laptop containing the files from his investigation into the role played by Chile's military intelligence agencies during the 1973-1990 military dictatorship. The files were the basis of a book by Weibel entitled "Illegal association: the dictatorship's secret archives," which the Chilean publishing house Ceibo published in October. Twenty-fours before the burglary, Weibel's car was stolen from outside his home. The police found it later the same day in La Cisterna, in the southern part of the capital. It had been completely dismantled. "The authorities should have reacted when Weibel filed a complaint about the threats he was getting while researching previously inaccessible archives," Reporters Without Borders said. "He and his family should receive protection commensurate with the dangers to which they are exposed. "It is still dangerous for journalists in former Operation Condor countries to investigate the activities of the military governments that were ruling them in the 1970s. Weibel deserves the support of his fellow journalists, not only as regards his security but also because he has helped to shed light on one of the darkest periods of the South America's recent history." Weibel is the son of José Weibel, a Chilean Communist Party leader who disappeared after being arrested in 1976.

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