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Argentine files complaint against the country’s two largest newspapers

Wednesday, September 22nd 2010 - 07:42 UTC
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Hector Magnetto, managing director of Clarin and target of the Kirchner administration Hector Magnetto, managing director of Clarin and target of the Kirchner administration

The Argentine government filed on Tuesday a formal complaint against the heads of the country's two biggest newspapers of complicity with a former military regime in crimes against humanity.

The suit was the latest round in an escalating conflict between President Cristina Kirchner and the privately owned media groups, Clarin and La Nacion, over control of the country's only newsprint producer, Papel Prensa.

Kirchner released a 26,000-page report last month accusing Clarin and La Nacion of gaining control of Papel Prensa in 1976 with the backing of Argentina's military government, which ruled the country from 1976 to 1983.

“The Secretariat for Human Rights on Tuesday filed suit over the linkage between the illegitimate sale of Papel Prensa and crimes against humanity committed during the dictatorship,” it said in a statement.

Clarin and La Nacion issued a joint statement slamming the government, charging it is targeting media who do not back its policies.

“This new step confirms the institutional alarms both dailies have been sounding in terms of the government's intention to steamroll media which do not agree with official policy” the papers said in their joint statement.

The Kirchner government's attempt ”to link that purchase (of Papel Prensa) with crimes against humanity is a moral and legal aberration, utterly lacking any factual basis,“ they added.

The government argues that access to newsprint is in the general public interest, and that the deal in question was unfair.

The goal is ”to preserve equality of opportunity for small newspapers, which today pay 650 dollars a ton for newsprint while Papel Prensa sells it to Clarin and La Nacion for 500 dollars a ton” Juan Carlos Gullo, the vice chair of the lower house's committee for freedom of expression, said last month.

The newspapers, however, contend Kirchner's aim is to control the press by controlling the supply of newsprint. Clarin owns 49% of Papel Prensa, La Nacion 22% and the state 28%.

The lawsuit asked the courts to bring charges against Ernestina Herrera de Noble and Hector Magnetto, respectively the owner and managing director of Clarin, and Bartolome Mitre, the editor of La Nacion.

They also asked for charges to be filed against Sergio Jose, Marcos and Hugo Fernando Peralta Ramos, former owners of La Razon, which is now owned by Clarin. La Razon was part of the 1976 deal that gave the newspapers a controlling interest in Papel Prensa.

The same suit calls for charges against former dictators Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera, members of the military junta at the time of the sale of Papel Prensa, and of former economy minister Jose Martinez de Hoz.

Categories: Politics, Argentina.

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  • fredbdc

    Just as they have with many other private companies they want to control the Ks will use the courts to legitimize driving them out of business so they can be nationalized or sold to one of their cronies.
    Don't they realize the same thing will happen to them once they are out of power?

    Sep 22nd, 2010 - 11:27 am 0
  • jerry

    I believe that both Ks cannot see beyond the end of their noses. They may have some trouble with the courts this time, as these persons being chased are known internationally. Also, as the Ks have also recently thumbed those noses at the Argentina supreme court, there may be a judge who will not do what the Ks want.

    Sep 22nd, 2010 - 02:29 pm 0
  • atk357

    The moment the Ks try to control the press, they become a dictatorship. The press and freedom of expression should remain free. It is very clear, here in the USA. If the Kirchners don't like what they hear from the press..oh well, like H. Truman used to say: “If you don't like the heat....get out of the kitchen”.
    Let's all hope they run out of luck in next year's elections.

    Sep 22nd, 2010 - 03:05 pm 0
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