February 9, 2010

Presidente de la República del Perú
Dr. Alan García Pérez
Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra. Cuadra
Cercado de Lima, Lima, Peru
Fax: +51 1 311 3940

Ministro de Justicia
Dr. Aurelio Pastor Valdivieso
Scipión Llona N° 350
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Fax: + 51 1 422 3577

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the sentencing of editor Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco.

According to our information, Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco, director and editor of the regional weekly newspaper Nor Oriente, was arrested in Bagua, capital of Utcumbamba province, Amazonas department, on January 11, 2010, and held in police custody overnight. The next day he appeared before court, where he was given a one-year prison sentence for allegedly defaming a local official in a series of articles alleging corruption in the Utcumbamba technological institute, a case that dates back to 2005. Mr. Carrascal, who reportedly suffers from high blood pressure, fainted during the hearing and was rushed to the hospital. He was sentenced in his absentia, and transferred from the hospital to the San Humberto prison in Bagua later that day. He has reportedly appealed the sentence.

There were a number of apparent irregularities in the trial. In addition to being sentenced in absentia, Mr. Carrascal says he had not received any notification that the court’s decision was due. According to one local press report, the defamation case against him had previously been abandoned by the plaintiff. It is widely believed that the conviction is an act of “revenge” and the prison sentence is widely seen as punishment for his editorial line, which is often very critical of authorities. Mr. Carrascal has also been outspoken in his defense of the indigenous population and the Amazon region.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned by the irregularities of Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco’s case and believes that he has been imprisoned solely for practicing his profession in violation of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Peru is a signatory. We therefore call for his immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.


Hannah Pakula                                      
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee               

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs
CC: H.E. Luis Miguel Valdivieso Montano
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Peru
Embassy of Perú
1700 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202) 659-8124

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