Reporters Without Borders has posted this account of a controversy involving efforts by the Chilean military to problem civilian media about leaks relating to the military. Excerpt:
Reporters Without Borders accuses Chile’s military justice system of violating freedom of information by pressuring the staff of the political weekly The Clinic to reveal their sources for a series of reports about alleged corruption and embezzlement involving many army officers.
The Clinic owner and legal representative Pablo Dittborn, publisher Patricio Fernández, editor Andrea Moletto and Mauricio Weibel, the reporter who wrote the stories, were summoned for questioning at the start of October by Rodrigo Acevedo, the military judge in charge of investigating the leaks leading to the exposure of the so-called “Milicogate” scandal.
However, Chile’s military courts have not been empowered to investigate cases involving civilians since 2011 and, in theory, are limited to handling cases directly linked to the armed forces.
Officially, the magazine’s owner and staff members were just questioned as witnesses but in practice they were pressured to reveal their sources. The confidentiality of the media’s sources is nonetheless guaranteed by Chile’s press law (Ley de Prensa) and by rulings on this subject issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which Chile is required to respect.
“This violation of the confidentiality of sources and attempted intimidation by the Chilean military justice system are unacceptable and constitute a grave violation of media freedom and democracy in Chile,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Latin America bureau. “We urge the Chilean authorities to respect the press law and Chile’s international obligations.”