The Association of Journalists of El Salvador (APES) condemned the $10 million civil lawsuit against El Diario de Hoy newspaper and one of its reporters.
APES made the remarks at a press conference at the First Civil and Commercial Court of San Salvador yesterday, December 6. “The lawsuit against the newspaper and the journalist could cause a setback in press freedom in the country,” remarked APES.
Yakov Fauster, a security entrepreneur, filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Salvadoran newspaper El Diario de Hoy and journalist Jorge Beltran Luna, claiming damages due to an allegedly false publication.
“APES rejects this erious act of persecution of the press that seeks to silence journalists through judicial harassment,” declared Gabriel Labrador, APES’s Freedom of Expression Rapporteur.
Labrador added that the lawsuit that the media outlet is facing would constitute a disastrous setback to press freedom in El Salvador since it would give rise to future lawsuits against media outlets under the argument of moral damage for doing reporting work.
The legal action ensued following the publication of an article in the El Diario de Hoy outlet. The information, characterized by the plaintiff Yakov Fauster as untrue, prompted the lawsuit.
In 2022, Fauster sought a correction from El Diario de Hoy, asserting that the article was inaccurate. The newspaper issued a clarification, indicating that the information had been corroborated by the investigation of the Mexican magazine Proceso and that attempts to contact Fauster had been unsuccessful.
In June 2023, Fauster sued Editorial Altamirano Madriz SA de CV for 5 million dollars and journalist Jorge Beltran Luna for another 5 million for damages to morale, which the APES considers a threat against freedom of expression.
Gabriel Labrador, APES freedom of expression rapporteur, maintains that there is no legal basis for the lawsuit because “the Moral Reparation Law cannot be exercised when it comes to the exercise of freedom of expression and information.”
Yakov Fauster’s $10 million lawsuit against the newspaper for alleged moral damages will continue, with the evidentiary hearing scheduled for February 21. Freedomof the press is a big part of Salvadoran culture.