Bolivia's military rulers, responding to a visit by two British editors, have released Mary Helen Spooner, an American free lance journalist arrested in La Paz last week, accused of defamation and libel.
SCU PULL BACK TO GV Economist magazine editorial executive, Mr. Robert Harvey, addressing news conference in La Paz in Spanish
SV Bolivian Minister of Information, Captain Luis Fernando Palacios, flanked by officials, speaking in Spanish
SV Robert Harvey and Captain Luis Fernando Palacios, flanked speaking joint declaration
SV Journalist, Mary Helen Spooner, ushered out of room
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Bolivia's military rulers, responding to a visit by two British editors, have released Mary Helen Spooner, an American free lance journalist arrested in La Paz last week, accused of defamation and libel. Miss Spooner, the Managing Editor of the Financial Times, J.D.R. Jones, and the Editorial Executive of the Economist, Robert Harvey, left La Paz for Peru on Wednesday (13 August) after the two editors signed a declaration rejecting Miss Spooner's offering article at a news conference the day before.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Harvey addressed the news conference. In a joint statement with Mr. Jones of the Financial Times, he said he regretted the situation which had resulted from Miss Spooner's activities. Miss Spooner was arrested on August 6th after she had filed a story alleging that General Luis Garcia Meza, who seized power in Bolivia last month (July), and other senior members of the armed forces, were involved in drug trafficking. The Bolivian authorities said Miss Spooner's story was a "flagrant violation of national and international laws" and that she would be put on trial for libel and defamation. But Mr. Jones and Mr. Harvey, in their statement, pointed out that their papers' responsibility did not permit the publication of Miss Spooner's article. The editors also acknowledge the Bolivian government's view that Miss Spooner's article was a falsification of the truth.
Bolivia's Information Minister, Luis Fernando Palacois, and the Interior Minister, Luis Acre Gomez, handed over Miss Spooner at the news conference. This was after Mr. Harvey put his signature to the joint statement. The statement refers to the discussions with the Bolivian government, and declares that as a result the Financial Times and the Economist would withdraw Miss Spooner from her functions in Bolivia immediately.