Group asks US to extend license for Panama newspapers

The current license expires Jan. 5.


The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) asked US Secretary of State John Kerry to intercede to prevent the closure of the Editorial Group La Estrella and El Siglo (Gese).

Gese, which publishes the newspapers La Estrella de Panamá and El Siglo, were placed on a sanction list May 5 due to the alleged money laundering activities of its main shareholder, Abdul Waked.

The United States prohibits its citizens and companies from maintaining relationships with listed entities. But the Treasury Department has granted Gese a temporary license which allows it to have access to the US banking and financial system. The license expires on Jan. 5 at midnight.

Failure to extend the term of the license means the papers may have to close, threatening the livelihoods of about 250 employees.

IAPA President Matt Sanders and Freedom of the Press and Information Committee Chairman Robert Rock asked Kerry "to immediately withdraw both newspapers from the Clinton List."

Sanders considered that "the closure of these media represents a violation of the principles of freedom of business, as well as a serious impairment of freedom of expression and of the press, and the right of access to information of Panamanians."

The Panamanian government, through Vice President and Chancellor Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado and Minister of Economy and Finance Dulcidio De la Guardia, has also asked US authorities to extend the license.



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