Reporters Without Borders faults Spain’s ‘Gag Law’

Basque journalist Axier López, fined for publishing photo of police arrest of protester via Twitter. Photo: Argia via IPI
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• Spain gets ‘slight’ downgrade in Reporters Without Borders freedoms index
• Fines against journalists, judicial reforms concern press freedom watchdogs

Reporters Without Borders, the international organisation defending freedom of the press worldwide, has cited Spain’s so-called ‘Gag Law’ (Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana, also known as the Ley Mordaza), passed in 2013 by the conservative Partido Popular majority in Congress, as a prime reason for dropping the country one notch in its just-released 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

While referring in a press statement to the downgrading of Spain on the annual index as “slight” in comparison to that of other countries, including France and Britain, Reporters Without Borders cited the ‘Gag Law’ along with Spain’s modification of its law on criminal trials and reforms governing universal justice as worrisome for proponents of press freedom in Spain.

According to the International Press Institute, a particular concern among those defending press freedoms in Spain is the Gag Law’s authorization of fines of up to 30,000 euros against journalists for the vaguely worded “unauthorised use of images or personal or professional data of officers or members of security forces or bodies”. Sanctions under the law have been applied twice in the past 60 days to two Spanish journalists, most recently with a 600 euro fine levied against photojournalist Axier López for having Tweeted a photo of police arresting a protester in the Basque Country.

► Read More in Spanish at InfoLibre and El Boletín …

► Read More in English at International Press Institute …

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