HAVANA TIMES – Argentine authorities must thoroughly investigate the recent attack on the Clarín media group headquarters and bring all those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 11 p.m. on November 22, a group of assailants threw several explosives into the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Clarín Group, the largest media conglomerate in Argentina, which includes the offices of the Clarín newspaper, according to news reports and Clarín Group spokesperson Martín Etchevers, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Surveillance footage showed about nine people involved in the attack, and the assailants fled on motorcycles after throwing the bombs, according to Etchevers and those reports. The bombs caused several small fires, which either burned out or were extinguished by firefighters who arrived at the scene, Etchevers said, adding that no one was injured in the attack and that the bombs did not cause significant damage to the building.
On November 26, police detained one suspect, Martín Michell Gallarreta, an Uruguayan citizen living in Buenos Aires, according to news reports, which said that authorities had identified him by analyzing security footage using facial recognition technology.
“The violent attack against Argentina’s Clarín Group is very troubling. It is essential that authorities send an unequivocal message that the media must be respected and protected,” said Natalie Southwick, CPJ’s Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator, in New York. “Argentine authorities must ensure that all of the individuals who participated in this attack are identified and held responsible.”
The Federal Criminal and Correctional Prosecutor’s Office No. 11 and the National Federal Criminal and Correctional Court are investigating the attack as an act of “public intimidation,” according to Clarín.
Convictions for criminal public intimidation using explosives carry prison sentences of up to 10 years, according to the Argentine criminal code.
Gallarreta remains in detention as of today, and the other attackers are at large, according to news reports, which said that he had declined to testify in court.
According to that report by Clarín, Gallarreta is a supporter of La Cámpora, a political youth organization founded in 2006 by Máximo Kirchner, son of former Presidents Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, which supports the government of current President Alberto Fernández.
Fernández and La Cámpora both published statements condemning the attack.
“It is clear that the attack is a message against the work that is done in the media, a message of intolerance towards journalistic work, and of disrespect for freedom of expression,” Etchevers told CPJ.
When CPJ called the Federal Criminal and Correctional Prosecutor’s Office No. 11 for comment, an officer who answered said they could not provide any information about an ongoing investigation.