The #FreeZamora initiative recalls that the founder of the El Periodico newspaper, who was arrested almost a year ago, was sentenced in June to six years in prison allegedly for money laundering.
His arrest and conviction, however, occurred after Zamora discovered acts of corruption committed by officials of the administration of President Alejandro Giammattei.
During a visit to Guatemala in May, RSF found that the 66-year-old journalist had lost 16 kilos during his detention. During the first month of his detention, Zamora was subjected to "psychological torture" because "his cell was infested with insects during the first month of detention and prison authorities have often subjected him to sleep deprivation."
�� Journalism is in danger in #Guatemala����! Publisher Jose Rubén Zamora has been detained in appalling conditions for a year. He's been sentenced to 6 years in prison and risks even longer on appeal. Sign RSF's petition & join our call to #FreeZamora!
"His sentencing and the judicial persecution of his newspaper are unacceptable," RSF Secretary Christophe Deloire said in sharing the online petition.
With Zamora detained and his newspaper closed, any expression of criticism of the Giammattei administration "is now heavily jeopardized by media self-censorship at a politically crucial moment in Guatemalan history," the free press advocates said.
"After eight years of setbacks in democratic freedoms, several candidates were prevented from running in the first round of the presidential elections. Now the Prosecutor's Office requests the dissolution of the party of one of the two most voted candidates in the first round to prevent him from participating in the second round on August 20", RSF pointed out.
Reporters Without Borders stressed that Zamora's sentence is a form of judicial harassment and a "message" for all Guatemalan journalists. So far, at least 20 journalists have had to go into exile due to persecution, according to the Guatemalan Association of Journalists (APG).