Peru criticizes Japanese press for entering hostage compound

LIMA — The Peruvian government on Jan. 7 criticized Japanese press members who are covering the hostage crisis at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima for their impromptu forays into the besieged compound.Prime Minister Alberto Pandolfi in a statement said the entry of Japanese reporters into the compound on Dec. 31 and again on Jan. 7 could have endangered the lives of the people being held captive by guerrillas of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Pandolfi said that, during a 10-hour overnight Cabinet meeting, the government’s chief negotiator in the standoff, Education Minister Domingo Palermo, said reporters entering the compound will impede resumption of direct negotiations. Such acts could jeopardize the safety of those still being held hostage, Palermo was quoted as saying.On Jan. 7, a reporter from Japan’s TV Asahi and a local interpreter entered the compound where 74 hostages are being held. They spent more than two hours inside before being detained by Peruvian police. On Dec. 31, several journalists, including a Kyodo News photographer, were allowed by the rebels to enter the residence, where they interviewed the guerrillas and hostages.Pandolfi’s statement also expressed the unanimous resolve of President Alberto Fujimori’s government not to pay any ransom to the MRTA rebels. The Cabinet likened the hostage incident to a form of blackmail against Japanese corporations. The Cabinet has reiterated its unanimous resolve to find a peaceful solution to the crisis through negotiations, the statement said.