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Argentine official sues two journalists for over half a million dollars

A lawsuit brought against two journalists by a government official in Argentina sparked outcry from the media, according to the newspaper Clarín. The head of the Federal Revenue Administration (AFIP in Spanish), Ricardo Echegaray, sued journalists Matías Longoni and Luis Majul separately for "damages and harm," added the newspaper. The official asked for almost $275,000 in restitution from each.  

The Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA in Spanish) criticized the lawsuit, saying, "it does not make sense that an official who supported the decriminalization of libel and slander would bring these abusive civil suits to court," the website reported. Echegaray claimed the journalists waged a media campaign to "sully" his reputation.   

According to FOPEA, Longoni investigated irregularities in the awarding of subsidies by the state office Echegaray ran since 2008. Then, the reporter published a book where he expanded his accusations. The case against Majul originated when the reporter alleged the AFIP put financial pressure on his television production company. 

The Center for Legal and Social Studies in Argentina condemned the "use of the judicial system to punish and impede expression," added Clarín. Representatives from 40 media organizations in Buenos Aires, the capital, echoed the sentiment, including the Civil Rights Association, reported the newspaper. 

On Dec. 8, the lawyer Enrique Piragini sued Ricardo Echegaray charging him with abuse of authority and ethics violations, reported the website Perfil. Piragini, known for suing other public officials, said his lawsuit will prove "a clear case of persecution and authoritarianism, supported by the impunity enjoyed by this official, who is known to be involved in serious cases of corruption and irregularities," added the website. 



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