Judge seizes video of Spanair crash

22nd September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Journalists and government officials debate censorship of the press.

22 September 2008

MADRID -- A Madrid judge's decision to send Civil Guard officers into the offices of El Pais to take video footage of the Spanair plane crash that killed 154 people at Barajas airport on 20 August has raised the issue of censorship.

On Friday night, the newspaper's editor, Javier Moreno, handed the Civil Guard a copy of audio and video of the crash, which were widely copied and distributed by other media since El Pais posted them on its website Thursday.

Moreno defended his newspaper's decision to release the exclusive material, arguing the information was legally obtained and the Constitution protects its distribution.

Judge Juan Javier Pérez is investigating the accident and ordered the material confiscated.

On Saturday the president of the Spanish journalism federation FAPE defended El Pais, saying the judge was wrong to seize the airport video of the MD-82 crash.

"No journalist in his or her right mind would think of having this information and not sharing it with other citizens", Magis Iglesias said.

The main opposition Popular Party (PP) accused Public Works Minister Magdalena Álvarez of leaking the material to El Pais. "Any serious government with a sense of responsibility would have dismissed the minister by now", said the PP secretary general, María Dolores de Cospedal.

The journalist who obtained the video, Francisco Mercado, denied that the material was leaked by the government.

"The story did not arrive in an official envelope, but through traditional methods used by any honest writer and a time-tested approach: finding out which individuals have the material and sounding them out one by one", writes Mercado. The video footage is still available on the El Pais website.

[El Pais / Expatica]

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