UK asks Guatemala to guarantee safety of detained journalist

Guatemala City, August 3 The United Kingdom asked Guatemala on Wednesday to guarantee the personal safety of famous journalist José Rubén Zamora Marroquín, a major government critic, who was arrested on July 29.

“We urge the Guatemalan authorities to ensure due process and their personal safety,” Tariq Ahmed, Britain’s Minister for Press Freedom at the British Foreign Office, said in a press release.

The official’s message was shared with journalists and on their social networks by the British ambassador to Guatemala and Honduras, Nick Whittingham.

Ahmed also expressed his “concern” over the “arrest” of the “prominent journalist,” and reminded that “freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and the rule of law are vital in healthy democracies.”

Zamora Marroquin was arrested last Friday at his home, after a search that lasted nearly 8 hours, on charges of money laundering, money laundering, extortion and abuse of influence.

Publications by Zamora Marroquín and El Periodico in the past decade have proven hundreds of acts of corruption in the government of Otto Pérez Molina and his deputy, Roxana Baldeti (2012-2015), but also in the administrations of Jimmy Morales (2016-2020) and current President Alejandro Giamatti.

The journalist was arrested 5 days after publishing strong condemnations of corruption by several former officials and officials of Giamatti’s government in the Sunday morning department.

The 66-year-old engineer will appear before a judge next Wednesday to issue his first statement, while his lawyers denounced seeing the file against him for the first time until Tuesday, five days after his arrest.

Zamora Marroquin received in June 2021, from the hands of the King of Spain, Felipe VI, the Distinguished Media Award in Iberian America, as part of the King of Spain Awards for International Journalism.

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The attorney general in charge of the case against Zamora, Rafael Koruchis, was punished last July by the United States, and banned from entering its territory, after being accused of “creating apparently false cases” against those who exposed corruption in Guatemala.

At least 24 former Guatemalan prosecutors and judges are in exile because, they denounced, they are suffering from “judicial persecution” by the current head of the public ministry, Consuelo Porras, who has also been sanctioned by the United States since 2021.

On Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said he was “concerned” about the journalist’s arrest, as well as about the legal action taken by that country’s government against justice officials.

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