The document, released last Tuesday afternoon, mentions “the concern” expressed by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) about “the growing polarisation and lack of transparency” in Spain, which have eroded citizens’ trust in journalists and encouraged “rhetoric” against the media, reports Efe.
The State Department says there were “multiple reports” in 2021 of instances of government officials and politicians “harassing” certain media outlets and journalists.
“RSF and other rights groups expressed concern that the opposition Vox party sought to stigmatise journalists through virtual harassment and by banning media outlets from covering its events, notably its campaign rallies, ahead of the regional elections in Madrid on 4 May,” the text reads.
The US foreign ministry document takes up allegations by human rights groups that “Vox politicians’ anti-media rhetoric at times incited violence against journalists” by their supporters, and especially at protests.
The State Department also singles out Podemos, a partner in the coalition government, for accusations by press associations and politicians that the party’s leadership has “verbally” harassed journalists and the media.
Specifically, the document recalls some words, in February 2021, by the then second vice-president of the Spanish government and leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, in the Congress of Deputies where he accused the media of being a “weapon of corporate power”.
Two months later, in April, press associations denounced a Podemos campaign video for having used images of journalists for “purposes of intimidation” and as “an attack on the free exercise of journalism”, the State Department remarked.
The document also underlines that in September 2021, journalistic associations denounced that on several occasions politicians in the Spanish Congress selected which questions reporters would accept, which they considered “an intolerable obstacle to freedom of expression”.
In general, the report highlights that in 2021 RSF and the NGO Rights International Spain have complained that the Spanish government limited the ability of journalists to cover the covid-19 pandemic and the arrival of migrants in the Canary Islands, “specifically by limiting the ability of photographers to certain locations”.