Argentina's former Defense Minister and current Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI) Chief Agustín Rossi has filed charges against journalists and the outlets employing them for violating the Intelligence Act.
Rossi filed a criminal complaint against columnists Joaquín Morales Solá and Daniel Santoro, as well as the newspapers Clarín and La Nación, for the alleged violation of the Intelligence Act. He also insisted there was a so-called press operation promoted by lawmakers of the opposition Together for Chance (Juntos por el Cambio - JxC) coalition regarding an alleged military table aimed at making illegal wiretaps.
The legislators, instead of analyzing the request for reports and using it for their parliamentary activity and to give hierarchy to what intelligence production means in Argentina, gave it to journalists to make a press operation so that the AFI appears as a headline in the two most important newspapers of the country, Rossi argued regarding a request for information filed by JxC lawmakers before the Bicameral Intelligence Committee to investigate the AFI for illegal wiretapping operations involving Army Chief-of-Staff César Milani.
Rossi claimed that Morales Solá, in his article published in La Nación on Jan. 3, and Santoro, in his piece carried by Clarín on Jan. 1, use textual phrases taken from the answer provided by the AFI to the Bicameral Committee, a document classified as secret.
In that context, Rossi recalled that Argentina's Intelligence Act protects with secrecy all the actions, functions, men and women who make up the AFI.
The Argentine Association of Journalistic Entities (ADEPA) energetically repudiated Rossi's actions, saying that the use of the criminal system as a form of persecution of the media for the dissemination of state information is not conceivable in a democratic system.
ADEPA's rejection was rooted in the protection of freedom of speech granted by the Constitution. The organization insisted that the persecution of journalists and media was inconceivable given the possible commission of crimes by the security forces as the writers were working under the protection of the freedom of expression enshrined in Articles 14 and 32 of the National Constitution.
The criminal threat constitutes a strong incentive to self-censorship and, for this reason, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has constantly condemned its use, ADEPA also pointed out.