USA: Antony Blinken denounces “censorship” of the press in El Salvador

Nayib Bukele replied: “I have a journalist friend, he wants to access Gitmo (the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay) to exercise his ‘freedom of the press’ rights.”

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, expressed this Sunday (04.10.2022) his concern about the reform of the Penal Code approved this week in El Salvador, and denounced that it opens the door to the “criminalization” and “censorship” of journalism in the Central American country.

In a statement, Blinken reacted to the reform approved on April 5 by the Legislative Assembly, which imposes sentences of 10 to 15 years in prison for “any type of written statement that alludes to the different terrorist criminal groups or associations of Maras or gangs.

The US Foreign Minister assured that said amendment “criminalizes journalism on certain gang activities” and “gives rise to attempts to censor the media and prevent information on corruption and other matters of public interest.”

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“Journalists must be free to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats or unjust arrest,” Blinken said. The official expressed concern about the “rebound in violence committed by gangs MS-13 Y neighborhood 18 in El Salvador” at the end of March, which led the Legislative Assembly to impose an emergency regime in the country.

That wave of murders claimed the lives of more than 80 people and placed March 26 as the bloodiest day in the recent history of the Central American country. “We urge El Salvador to address this threat while protecting civil liberties, including freedom of the press, due process, and freedom of expression,” Blinken stressed.

In his statement, the official stressed that Salvadoran gangs also threaten the “national security” of the United States and concluded: “Now more than ever, it is essential to extradite gang leaders to face justice in the United States.”

Given this, the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele responded to Blinken through a message in English via Twitter.

“I have a journalist friend, he wants to access Gitmo (the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay) to exercise their ‘freedom of the press’ rights and verify whether the detainees have enjoyed their ‘civil liberties’ and ‘due process,'” Bukele said, adding : “You (United States) have terrorists who threaten you, and we have terrorists who threaten us.”

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