Earlier this month, Mr. Curruchiche was placed on a State Department list of people from Central America accused of having “knowingly engaged in acts that threaten democratic processes or institutions, engaged in significant corruption, or obstructed investigations,” barring them from entry into the U.S.
In the video statement, Mr. Carruchiche repeatedly insisted that Mr. Zamora’s arrest “has no relation to his work as a journalist” but was instead related to “his position as a businessman.”
Under Mr. Zamora’s leadership, elPeriodico had reported on several allegations of corruption within the Giammattei administration, including within the prosecutor’s office, and his sudden arrest was widely criticized by human rights groups.
“This case could be a breaking point for the guarantees of freedom of expression in Guatemala,” said Juan Pappier, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch, in an email. “If this continues like this, there will soon be no one who can effectively expose and curb corruption and abuse of power in the country.”
Beyond arresting Mr. Zamora, the Guatemalan authorities also raided elPeriodico’s offices on Friday evening, forcing some 30 employees out of the building, while several others were held inside the offices all night with their phones taken away, the newspaper reported.
The Association of Guatemalan Journalists said in a statement that the raid was carried out “to censor the Saturday print edition of elPeriodico.”