August 10, 2022

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Guatemala detains famend journalist on cash laundering, blackmail allegations

Guatemala detains renowned journalist on money laundering, blackmail allegations

GUATEMALA CITY : Guatemalan authorities arrested a widely known native journalist on accusations of cash laundering and blackmail, in keeping with a prosecutor in control of the case, a transfer that has sparked outrage amongst human rights activists.

Jose Ruben Zamora Marroquin, an outspoken authorities critic, was detained Friday evening, mentioned Rafael Curruchiche, head of the Particular Prosecutor’s Workplace Towards Impunity (FECI) on social media, after police raided his house and workplace earlier.

Talking from a cell in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday by a journalist for native newspaper Prensa Libre, Zamora mentioned he was starting a starvation strike in a present of rejection to his persecution.

An lawyer for Zamora didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Zamora, 65, based the newspaper elPeriodico in 1996, an outlet well-known for investigations which have revealed a number of instances of presidency corruption.

“I wish to make it clear that the arrest has no relation to his high quality as a journalist, however to a attainable act of cash laundering in his capability as a businessman,” Curruchiche mentioned.

An FECI assistant prosecutor, Samari Carolina Gomez Diaz, was additionally arrested for her attainable participation within the crime of disclosure of confidential info, associated to Zamora, Curruchiche added.

“This can be a political persecution. I think about that there have to be a conspiracy,” Zamora mentioned Friday as he left for court docket, guarded by cops. He was resulting from go earlier than a decide in a while Saturday.

Curruchiche himself was included this month on the so-called Engel Checklist, a listing that names these the U.S. authorities considers “corrupt and undemocratic” actors within the area.

Zamora’s arrest got here amid a crackdown on prosecutors, judges, human rights activists, journalists and opposition officers by FECI, initially created to sort out investigations spearheaded by the later ousted U.N.-backed Worldwide Fee Towards Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

At the very least 5 Guatemalan journalists from totally different media retailers are at the moment in exile. Greater than a dozen former FECI prosecutors, judges and human rights activists have fled Guatemala over complaints and arrest warrants issued towards them by the FECI.

Guatemalan enterprise chambers, the nation’s human rights watchdog and worldwide rights organizations have condemned Zamora’s arrest.

The administration of President Alejandro Giammattei has not commented on the case.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu, writing by Cassandra Garrison; modifying by Diane Craft)