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São Paulo, April 12, 2024—Argentine authorities must thoroughly investigate the death threats received by journalist Julio Ernesto López on his father’s cell phone, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Friday.

According to an April 5 post on X, formerly Twitter, by the Association of Argentine Press Companies (ADEPA), a professional association, and a complaint López filed with the SpecialProsecutor’s Unit for the Investigation of Cybercrimes in Buenos Aires, which CPJ reviewed, the journalist received death threats after the April 4 broadcast on Canal Trece’s “Telenoche” program of an investigative report on the illegal selling of controlled medications.

“Argentine authorities must immediately investigate the death threats against Argentine journalist Julio Ernesto López,” said CPJ’s Latin America program coordinator, Cristina Zahar. “Journalists should not be persecuted for providing a service of public interest to society, as was the case with his report.”  

The WhatsApp messages displayed on his father’s cell phone, which CPJ reviewed, said: “I’m going to shoot you,” and, “One-eyed guy, you work for the cops.” López, who wears a shaded lens over his left eye, believes the threats were sent to his father’s phone because they have the same name.

López’s story explained how criminals access the online system of National Institute of Social Services for Retirees and Pensioners (PAMI), the country’s public health insurance agency for retired people, to issue prescriptions for medicines that are subsidized by an average of 80% by the government. López is shown negotiating a payment with a criminal to get access to the system.

“Since it doesn’t have two-factor authentication, anyone with a login and password from a registered physician can access and issue prescriptions,” the journalist told CPJ in a phone interview.

An expert in security, López works in banking cybercrime and is also a columnist for Radio Mitre and for Grupo Clarín’s cable news station TN. His X profile has 62,100 followers.

The prosecutor’s office informed CPJ in a voice message that it used geotagging to get the location of the phone number that sent the threats and has asked WhatsApp owner Meta to provide the person’s profile information, which should happen within 20 days. 

This content originally appeared on Committee to Protect Journalists and was authored by Arlene Getz/CPJ Editorial Director.


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