|Born||Gustavo Andrés Gorriti Ellenbogen
4 February 1948 (aged 69)
|Organization||Caretas, La Prensa|
|Awards||Maria Moors Cabot Prize (1992)
CPJ International Press Freedom Award (1998)
Gustavo Andrés Gorriti Ellenbogen (born 4 February 1948, Lima, Peru) is a Peruvian journalist known for his reporting on rebel groups, government corruption, and drug trafficking. In 2011, the European Journalism Centre described him as having "been awarded more prizes than probably any other Peruvian journalist".
Journalism in Peru
Gorriti first gained fame as a journalist in the 1980s reporting on Peru's internal conflicts between the government and rebel groups such as the Shining Path. In addition to his news articles, he wrote a three-volume book on the organization.
While working for the weekly Caretas in 1992, he reported links between the government and narcotics traffickers, particularly implicating Vladimiro Montesinos, President Alberto Fujimori's "strong man". Anger over the articles led a commando squad from the Peruvian army to break into his home and abduct him during the 1992 Peruvian constitutional crisis, in which Fujimori dissolved Congress and detained several opposition figures.
Gorriti's wife, who had been present for the kidnapping, followed a plan that the pair had previously arranged, calling international press NGOs as well as the US government. The immediate international pressure caused Gorriti to be transferred to official detention the following day, a response that he later said probably saved his life. He was released on 8 April, two days after his initial abduction.
Exile in US and Panama
Following his release, Gorriti left Peru. He then worked for a time in the US, first as a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. and at the University of Miami's North-South Center in Miami, Florida.
That year, he reported that a bank that had recently failed had been laundering money for Colombia's Cali Cartel. He also alleged that some of the President Ernesto Pérez Balladares' appointments were guided by nepotism, and in 1997, he gained particular notice for reporting that an agent of the cartel had contributed US$51,000 to Pérez Balladares' presidential campaign. When his work visa expired, the Panamanian government refused to renew it, setting off a storm of criticism from international press NGOs and domestic opposition parties. Gorriti was given shelter in the Prensa offices, and the paper managed to delay his deportation through a stay by the Panamanian Supreme Court.
Prensa publisher and editor I. Roberto Eisenmann Jr. reported that the paper had discovered that the Panamanian cabinet had received news of a death threat against Gorriti; rather than relay the threat, the government had decided to expel Gorriti to preserve the nation's image.
Americas Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued statements in support of Gorriti, as did British novelist John Le Carre and Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa. The US pressured Panama on Gorriti's behalf, and the case was also added to the docket of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States. The Panamanian government relented, and Gorriti's visa was later renewed.
A second charge was filed against Gorriti and three other Prensa journalists in 1999 for an article in which he reported that a drug trafficker had donated to the campaign of Attorney General José Antonio Sossa, with Sossa himself supervising the investigation.
CPJ again issued a statement in his support, stating that the case "highlight[ed] the need to repeal criminal defamation and libel statutes in Panama". The case was dismissed by an appeals court in 2003.
In March 2001, Pérez Balladares' former foreign minister, Ricardo Alberto Arias, forced out Gorriti and was elected La Prensa's new president by a majority of shareholders. The Committee to Protect Journalists, which had awarded Gorriti its International Press Freedom Award for his work with the paper, called the election, and the resignations and demotions of investigative staff that followed, a "boardroom coup" that left "the once feisty paper a shadow of its former self".
After leaving Panama, Gorriti returned to Peru, working for the daily newspaper Peru21 as well as becoming the journalist in residence at the Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL).
In 2009, he launched Idl Reporteros, an experimental investigative journalism site. A nonprofit endeavor funded by NGOs, the site employed four full-time journalists as of 2011.
Awards and recognition
In 1986, Gorriti was given a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, an honor awarded to mid-career journalists. He was awarded the Maria Moors Cabot Prize of Columbia University, the world's longest-running journalism award, in 1992 for "advancement of press freedom and inter-American understanding."
In 1998, he won the International Press Freedom Award of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which honors journalists who show courage in defending press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, or imprisonment.
Books by Gorriti
- Sendero: historia de la guerra milenaria en el Peru. Editorial Planeta Perú. 1990. ISBN 9789972239465.
- La batalla. Instituto de Defensa Legal. 2003. ISBN 9789972239465.
- Francesco Conte (26 May 2011). "Investigative journalism according to Gustavo Gorriti: 'Never allow fear to become an editor'". European Journalism Centre. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- "1998 Press Freedom Awards-Gorriti". Committee to Protect Journalists. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- Nathaniel C. Nash (8 April 1992). "Peru Chief Orders New Mass Arrests". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Gustavo Gorriti gana el Premio Nuevo Periodismo CEMEX+FNPI en la modalidad Homenaje" (in Spanish). fnpi. 9 September 2010. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Why Washington is worried about Peru". The Guardian. 2 June 2011. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Joshua Partlow and Lucien Chauvin (8 April 2009). "Peru's Fujimori Gets 25 Years". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Larry Rohter (4 September 1997). "Panama's Move to Oust Editor Sets Off Storm". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Rewarding Courage". NewsHour. PBS. 25 November 1998. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- Robert C. Harding (2006). The History of Panama. Greenwood. pp. 127–28. ISBN 978-0313333224. Retrieved 29 August 2012.
- "Jailing Journalists in Latin America". The New York Times. 27 March 1998. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Police surround homes of three journalists charged with criminal defamation". International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 9 August 2000. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Judge overturns decision barring journalist from leaving country". The Committee to Protect Journalists. 29 October 2003. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Attacks on the Press 2001: Panama". The Committee to Protect Journalists. 26 March 2002. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Lois Fiore (22 September 2003). "Gustavo Gorriti.(1986)". Nieman Reports. Retrieved 29 August 2012. (subscription required)
- Juanita Darling (13 September 1997). "Visa Refusal Seen as Effort to 'Gag' Defiant Peruvian Editor". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Columbia University to Honor 4 Journalists". The New York Times. 28 October 1992. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "The Maria Moors Cabot Prizes". Columbia University School of Journalism. Archived from the original on 26 August 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2012.