June 12, 2008

Minister of Justice and the Interior
Sr. Ramón Rodríguez Chacín
Ministerio del Poder Popular para Relaciones Interiores y Justicia
Av. Urdaneta, Edif. Sede MIJ, Piso 1, Carmelitas
Caracas, Venezuela
Fax: 011-58-212-861-2097

Attorney General
Dra. Luisa Ortega Díaz
Fiscal General de la República
Avda. México, Manduca a Pelelojo
Edif. Sede Fiscalía Geneal de la República, La Candelaria
Caracas, Venezuela

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to condemn the murder of Reporte Diario de la Economía vice president Pierre Fould Gerges.

According to our information, on June 2, 2008, Pierre Fould Gerges, vice president of the Caracas daily Reporte Diario de la Economía, was shot in the neck and torso by two unidentified individuals on his way to visit his mother. Gerges died instantly; he is the first Venezuelan journalist to be killed since 2006. Reporte Diario de la Economía is known for its tough editorial stance on government corruption. Pierre Gerges had not been directly threatened, though several senior staff members, including Tannous Gerges, had been receiving telephone and e-mail death threats since June 2007.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Pierre Fould Gerges may have been targeted solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Venezuela is a signatory. We therefore urge the Venezuelan authorities to conduct a full and impartial investigation into Mr. Gerges’ death and to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.

Thank you for your attention.

Hannah Pakula                  
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee    

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

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