The International Federation of Journalists has condemned the “appalling” attack by Argentina's President on journalists who were violently assaulted, had their equipment smashed and records destroyed when a gang broke in to their newsroom.
The journalists at Tiempo Argentino are involved in a long-running dispute over non-payment of wages and attempts by the paper's previous owner to close the company. For several months they have stayed in the building and have been running the paper as a co-operative.
In the early hours of Monday morning they were attacked by a gang of up to 20 who it is alleged were working for a businessman who claims he now owns the building.
Now Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, instead of condemning the brutal attack, has launched a astonishing tirade against the workers.
In an interview with two Argentine newspapers he accused the workers of taking what is not theirs and condemned any form of “usurpation”. Whilst he said he regretted the violence he added “nobody has the right to take what is not theirs”. When asked if he meant the journalists he said “of course, of course”.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “When it comes to a choice between workers human rights and the selfish interests of a wealthy businessman President Macri has shown where he stands. He has chosen the side of commercial greed over freedom of the press. This is an appalling attack which undermines the credibility of a government which claims to stand for media freedom”.
The IFJ has already written to the Argentine authorities and pledged its full support to the workers' attempts to prevent the closure of their paper.