Top journalist Carlos Chamorro flees Nicaragua, cites raids

Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who rents an office at the building of the NGO Center of Investigation on Communication (CINCO), speaks to the press to denounce damages during a police raid in Managua on December 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Top journalist Carlos Chamorro flees Nicaragua, cites raids

  • Thousands have fled the country in self-imposed exile, including more than 50 journalists, Chamorro says

MEXICO CITY: More than a month after Nicaraguan police raided and occupied his news outlets’ offices, prominent journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro has fled to Costa Rica.
Chamorro announced in a video posted Monday on Facebook that he made “the painful decision to go into exile to ensure my freedom and physical safety, and above all to carry on independent journalism from Costa Rica.”
Chamorro runs the online news site Confidencial as well as the television programs “Tonight” and “This Week.” In mid-December, police swept into their offices and carried away documents, computers and other equipment.
When Chamorro and members of his staff went to the police to demand documentation justifying the raid they were violently pushed away by riot police.
President Daniel Ortega’s government has moved in recent weeks against remaining independent voices of dissent in the media and non-governmental organizations.
At least 325 people have been killed in the suppression of anti-government protests that began last April.
Thousands have fled the country in self-imposed exile, including more than 50 journalists, Chamorro says. In April, journalist Angel Gahona was killed while reporting live via Facebook on protests in the southeastern city of Bluefields.
Last Friday, the newspaper La Prensa ran a blank front page bearing only the question: “Have you imagined living without information?” The government has been holding up its supplies of newsprint and ink, forcing the paper to reduce its page count and take other steps to save resources.
In a column published on Confidencial’s website Sunday, Chamorro said he had exhausted his legal options in Nicaragua and now would have to continue doing journalism from Costa Rica. He said threats and criminalization of his work had only intensified.
Chamorro demanded the release of political prisoners, including fellow journalists Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau of 100% Noticias, who were arrested in December.
After the Sandinistas overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza, Chamorro ran their newspaper, La Barricada, for years. His mother, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, was with the Sandinistas when they took power in 1979, but she ran against Ortega for the presidency and won in 1990.


Philippines warns journalists out to ‘destroy’ Duterte

Updated 1 min 28 sec ago
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Philippines warns journalists out to ‘destroy’ Duterte

  • Caution follows reports alleging family involvement in drugs and raising questions about increase in president’s wealth

MANILA: The Philippine government on Monday warned the press against plotting to “destroy” President Rodrigo Duterte’s government, as his spokesman accused journalists of spreading fake news.
The warning followed recent local news reports alleging the Duterte family’s involvement in illegal drugs and raising questions about a large increase in his wealth.
“They are all there doing their thing, trying to destroy this government by spreading false news and planting intrigues against the government,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo told a news conference.
He released a graphic which he said showed how a video of a hooded man alleging the Duterte family’s role in the narcotics trade was shared by one journalist to colleagues employed by other Philippine news outfits.
The news organizations named have all reported extensively on Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs that has left more than 5,000 suspects dead at the hands of the police in what rights groups have said may be a crime against humanity.
Panelo said the ouster allegations were based on information shared by a foreign intelligence agency which he would not name.
“In other words, what these people are doing is to give succour or assist the enemy, if they are not the enemy themselves,” Panelo said.

 

Last week Duterte publicly lashed out at the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), which published a report about the rise in the president’s net worth.
“In the coming weeks, I will return the favor. So Philippine Investigative, you better stop,” Duterte said.
Panelo said on Monday that the Duterte government was putting these journalists and news outfits on notice but would not pursue legal action against them “for now.”
“But if the plot thickens and they perform acts which are already violation(s) of the penal laws, that’s a different story,” Panelo added.
The comments came weeks after the government twice briefly detained Maria Ressa, chief executive of the online news site Rappler over tax evasion, securities fraud and other charges.
Panelo named Ressa and Rappler, PCIJ, and Vera Files, among others, in the list of news organizations allegedly plotting against Duterte.
He accused Ellen Tordesillas, the Vera Files president, of spreading the video clip alleging Duterte family involvement in the narcotics trade.
Ressa, tweeting about the ouster allegations, called them “ludicrous” and “yet another (presidential) palace ploy to harass journalists.”
Panelo said that the government has “never stifled dissent in this country.”
Tordesillas called the supposed ouster plot “downright false,” while PCIJ has said its reports were all based on documents issued by Duterte himself in his required annual filings on assets and liabilities.

FACTOID

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has in previous years lashed out at critical media outfits, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper and broadcaster ABS-CBN. He threatened to go after their owners over alleged unpaid taxes or block the network’s franchise renewal application.