Argentina's main association of journalistic organizations on Friday accused President Nestor Kirchner of imposing blatant restrictions on the flow of information regarding his administration.
"Only the president himself or someone he designates in each case can be the source of information provided to journalists, which, by the way, is incompatible with the (press' role) of informing and of being informed," the ADEPA journalists' federation said in a statement.
The entity made its accusation in response to Kirchner's recent criticism of La Nacion daily for reports about the controversial reform of the Council of Magistrates - the board that nominates and removes judges - that was passed by Congress Thursday. The legislation was widely criticized as giving the Kirchner administration too much control over the judicial branch.
Kirchner, who served as governor of Santa Cruz province for 12 years before becoming president in 2003, had been accused of increasing the number of justices on the provincial Supreme Court in order to pack the tribunal with his supporters. The president earlier this week had also criticized Argentina's largest-circulation newspaper, Clarin, saying the daily had printed lies about a supposed government tax-reform plan.
"Kirchner has once again used a public forum to confront the press. Most worrying are his ideas about the president's relationship with the media and the handling of public information which he revealed in his speech," said ADEPA, which said it had already "repeatedly denounced" this situation.
According to ADEPA, Kirchner believes that, when the media expresses "positions different from his, it is part of the opposition and therefore to be treated as a political party seeking to take power away from him, putting it in a role it doesn't have and doesn't want to have." The press federation, which comprises numerous Argentine media organizations, also accused the government of "making every effort" to stymie a bill to guarantee free access to public information.