The arrest of a Guatemalan journalist is condemned by activists and politicians – National

A prominent Guatemalan newspaper editor who has overseen corruption investigations has been arrested, prompting denunciations by politicians, anti-corruption activists and civic groups on Saturday.

Prosecutors arrested Jose Ruben Zamora Marroquin at his home on Friday night, searched his home, confiscated phones and accused him of money laundering. Zamora Marroquin is an award-winning journalist who runs the newspaper El Periodico.

“This is an orchestrated plan, which is now not about prosecuting the corrupt, but opponents,” said human rights activist Eleonora Muralles. “The strategy is to co-opt the whole system and have judges — with serious doubts about their impartiality — collate cases and evidence against opponents.”

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Journalists protested outside a courthouse where the case is being heard on Saturday.

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US Congressman James P. McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, wrote that he was “deeply concerned” by the detention.

McGovern wrote on his Twitter account: “The judiciary is already decimated, is the Free Press next? Journalism is not a crime!”

Zamora Marroquin has declared a hunger strike. Ahead of a court hearing, he said, “I haven’t eaten or drank water for 36 hours.”

The US government has sharply criticized the weakening of anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala and last year canceled the US visa of Guatemalan Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who prosecuted former prosecutors who conducted corruption investigations into officials.

More than 1,000 former anti-corruption officials have fled the country. Now those efforts appear to have extended to journalists as well.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei has dismissed US officials’ criticism of his attorney general and what they see as a backsliding in Guatemala’s fight against corruption. The country’s new special prosecutor against impunity has been added to a US list of suspects of corruption or undermining democracy. He is accused of obstructing corruption investigations.

Giammattei’s government and prosecutors accelerated efforts started by his predecessor to reverse a United Nations-backed anti-corruption campaign that put several high-ranking officials, including former presidents, behind bars. They say these charges were themselves irregular.

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In addition, according to the State Department report, several Guatemalans, including two Supreme Court justices, were allegedly involved in a plan to overwhelm the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals with corrupt judges.

© 2022 The Canadian Press The arrest of a Guatemalan journalist is condemned by activists and politicians – National


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