Two Nicaraguan journalists held on terrorism charges
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Nicaraguan authorities to stop hounding independent media outlets and immediately free two journalists held on “terrorism” and “conspiracy” charges – Miguel Mora, the owner and director of the 24-hour TV news channel 100% Noticias, and Lucía Pineda Ubau, its news director.
Mora and Pineda, who are also accused of “inciting hatred” of the national police, were arrested on the evening of 21 December after around 40 riot police stormed into the TV channel’s premises.
A few hours after their arrest, the national telecommunications regulator, TELCOR, instructed all Nicaraguan cable TV providers to turn off the signal of 100% Noticias, one of the leading sources of coverage of the political crisis in Nicaragua that was triggered by the start of anti-government protests in April.
Mora’s wife, Verónica Chávez, who is one of the channel’s journalists, was also arrested but was later released. Mora and Chávez had been the targets of police harassment and death threats for several weeks prior to the arrests, which are the latest episode in a major government offensive against human rights groups, opposition activists and independent media outlets.
Last week, riot police targeted the news website Confidencial, raiding and ransacking its offices and then taking up position outside.
“The increasingly authoritarian crackdown by President Daniel Ortega’s government is extremely disturbing,” RSF’s Latin America bureau said. “Covering opposition political activity cannot, under any circumstances, be regarded as a terrorist activity. Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda do not belong in prison. The charges against them are completely absurd and baseless. They must be freed without delay.”
Last week, RSF asked United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres to intercede as quickly as possible with President Ortega with the aim of restoring respect for press freedom in Nicaragua and ending the escalation in censorship and attacks on independent media outlets that began last month.
Nicaragua is ranked 90th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.