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Government action on newsprint firm

The government moved to take over Argentina's only newsprint maker, alleging two leading newspapers illegally conspired with dictators to control the company three decades ago and then used it to drive competing media out of business.

President Cristina Fernandez said the courts should decide whether the Grupo Clarin and La Nacion media companies should be charged with crimes against humanity - specifically whether the newsprint company was illegally expropriated by the newspapers and the military junta.

The companies, with which Ms Fernandez has been feuding for two years, deny any illegality in the acquisition of the newsprint maker, or other crimes.

They accuse Ms Fernandez of trying to control the essential material needed to guarantee freedom of expression, a position supported by media groups.

Speaking in a national broadcast, Ms Fernandez said she was defending those rights.

She accused Grupo Clarin and La Nacion of using the newsprint company to impose media monopolies on Argentina, stifling other viewpoints by refusing to sell paper at fair prices to competitors.

She showed a headline from the opposition Clarin newspaper saying "Who controls Papel Prensa controls the written word", and said she couldn't agree more.

"Papel Prensa is the only company that produces newsprint in this country," Ms Fernandez said, "and it's a vertically integrated monopoly. It determines who it sells to, how much it sells and at what price. And so yes, whoever controls it controls the written word in the Republic of Argentina."

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