Press freedom organisation asks US to prevent closure of two Panama newspapers

Press freedom organisation asks US to prevent closure of two Panama newspapers

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MIAMI, USA — The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) last week asked United States Secretary of State John Kerry to intercede to prevent the shutdown of Panamanian newspapers El Siglo and La Estrella de Panamá next month, removing them from the “Clinton List”.

The case that seriously affects the two major Panamanian papers dates from May of this year when the US Treasury Department included the main shareholder of both newspapers in the so-called “Clinton List” for alleged links to laundering of money coming from drug trafficking.

Due to the fact that there do not exist accusations nor evidence of participation by El Siglo and La Estrella de Panamá in unlawful acts, the US Treasury Department issued them a temporary licence that allows its citizens and companies to have commercial relations with the media that depend on supplies from abroad. The licence expires on January 6 and, if not extended, the publications could face the risk of having to shut down their operations.

IAPA president, Matt Sanders, and the chairman of the organisation’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, requested in a message sent to Kerry “the immediate withdrawal of both newspapers from the ‘Clinton List.'” The IAPA officers consider that “the shutdown of these news media represents a violation of the principles of freedom to do business as well as seriously affecting freedom of expression and of the press and the Panamanians’ right to access to information.”

In a resolution adopted at its General Assembly in Mexico in October, the IAPA also called on the US State Department to take necessary steps to come up with a definitive solution to the newspapers’ situation.

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