IAPA protests court order breaching professional confidentiality

MIAMI, Florida (October 1, 2002)—The Inter American Press Association
(IAPA) today described as a violation of press freedom in Argentina, a subpoena
to obtain a list of telephone calls of a foreign correspondent in order to identify
his news sources.

Thomas Catán, Argentina correspondent of the British daily Financial
Times, submitted a formal complaint against Judge Claudio Bonadío Friday
during a Legal Conference on Freedom of the Press in Argentina organized by
the IAPA. Earlier in the day, Bonadío had announced that he planned to
order Catán to hand over to him a list of telephone calls he had made.
The action followed the refusal by Catán to reveal his news sources during
a court hearing on September 17.

The hearing came after the Financial Times on August 30 published a report
by Catán of allegations by foreign bankers in Argentina that local senators
had sought bribes to stall a legislative bill seeking to impose new taxes on
banks in the country.

IAPA President Robert Cox said that professional confidentiality is an essential
and inviolable tool for reporters, as it “gives citizens confidence and
full assurance of being able to make a denunciation without fear of reprisal.”

Cox chaired the IAPA legal conference, held in Buenos Aires, whose aim was
to promote dialogue between jurists and journalists. He said that violation
of professional secrecy is contrary to international treaties to which Argentina
is a party and to the fundamental principles of freedom of the press as expressed
in the IAPA-sponsored Declaration of Chapultepec and the Organization of American
States’ Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression.

Cox, Assistant editor of The Post & Courier, Charleston, South Carolina,
expressed hope, however, that the judge’s demand would be set aside and
that the allegations of attempted corruption would be duly investigated.

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