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Freedom of the Press 2008 - Spain

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 29 April 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Spain, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f6323fa.html [accessed 22 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 5 (of 30)
Political Environment: 13 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 5 (of 30)
Total Score: 23 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Spain has a free and lively press, with more than 100 newspapers covering a wide range of perspectives and actively investigating high-level corruption. Freedom of speech is protected by Spanish law and is generally respected in practice. Threats to press freedom include antiterrorism legislation and high awards in defamation suits against journalists. Recently, a judge ordered the garnishing of the pension of Patxi Ibarrondo, the editor of La Realidad, who was originally charged with libel in 2001 for comments about a regional party secretary of the Popular Party. The libel suit forced the closure of La Realidad that same year. In July, two cartoonists were fined 3000 euros each for "insulting the crown" for their depiction of the crown prince Felipe having sex with his wife Princes Letizia. The offending issue of the newspaper was ordered to be confiscated by a judge., because it violated the Criminal Code that punishes "insults" to the royal family. The cartoonists in question were eventually fined 3,000 euros each.

In January, the political environment worsened following a breakdown of peace talks between the Spanish government and the Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA, or Basque Fatherland and Freedom), after an airport bombing. Journalists who oppose the political views of ETA continue to be targeted by the group, forcing many journalists to employ bodyguards. Daily newspaper ownership is concentrated within large media groups like Prisa and Zeta. Internet access is not restricted, however authorities monitor websites with material espousing hate-speech or advocating anti-Semitism and shut one down in April, according to the US State Department's 2007 report on Human Rights.

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