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U.S. condemns attack on editor

Zamora: His newspaper has alleged government links with the mafia.
Zamora: His newspaper has alleged government links with the mafia.

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GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala -- The U.S. is urging the Guatemalan government to bring to justice a gang that attacked the editor of an independent newspaper.

Jose Ruben Zamora, whose newspaper El Periódico has highlighted alleged corruption by leading government officials, was tied up and threatened, along with his family, after armed men forced their way into his home.

The attack, which took place Tuesday, was described as "violent and barbaric" by the U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala, John R. Hamilton.

He said the embassy was "outraged" and that the crime was a blow to all journalists "and to the good name of Guatemala."

Hamilton said: "It is an imperative and fundamental part of democracy that all journalists practice their profession free from threats, intimidation, and violence.

"We call upon the government of Guatemala and the public ministry to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law."

The gang, posing as investigators from the public prosecutor's office and carrying shotguns, tied up Zamora and his family, stripped and blindfolded him, kicked two of his sons in the chest and put a gun to his head and threatened him, Reuters reported.

The public prosecutor's office has begun an investigation into the attack, the news agency said.

El Periódico has been a thorn in the side of President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera's government.

In November 2002, government auditors moved into El Periódico's offices to carry out an investigation following the publication of an article linking the government with the mafia.

That prompted the World Association of Newspapers to write to the president, saying it was the state's duty to let journalists and publishers work without fear of harassment.

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