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Former Head of Argentina's INDEC Not Guilty

Graciela Bevacqua, the former director of Argentina's Prices National Institute of Statistics and Census (INDEC), was found not guilty of a criminal offense for developing and publishing independent price indices.

Argentina's Commerce Department had filed a criminal complaint against Bevacqua and economist Nicholas Salvatore for developing an alternative index of inflation. Bevacqua and other INDEC officials were fired in 2007 for refusing the government's demands to understate the country's inflation rate.

In a decision released Friday, an economic criminal judge said "the allegations could not be considered as constituting a crime and, as such, were insufficient to cause criminal intervention of the State."

"This was not a case for price speculation in the markets, but an attack on free speech," said Bevacqua.

The complaint, filed a year ago, was in response to two published information indices that the government claimed were falsified to cause a rise in prices in the domestic market to benefit the defendants and other agents of the financial system. If they had been found guilty, Bevacqua and Salvatore faced penalties of two to six years in prison.

The ASA has supported Bevacqua and her former INDEC colleagues throughout the ordeal. In August 2011, the ASA asked the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to help protect them from government prosecution. Most recently, in a letter the ASA implored the U.S. State Department's Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor to weigh in with the Argentine government.

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