Mon, Dec 17, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Nicaraguan police raid newspaper, assault reporters

AFP and Reuters, MANAGUA

Riot police move against reporters outside the police headquarters in Managua on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of an opposition daily, and then stripped human rights and advocate groups’ permission to operate, those targeted said on Saturday.

Nine police officers armed with rifles entered the offices late on Friday and started pushing people, beating others and making fun of reporters, after journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro challenged them to take on his media outlet without a search warrant in his online daily Confidencial and news broadcasts Esta Semana and Esta Noche, he said.

What you are doing “is just de facto. If you have the order, I ask you to show it,” Chamorro said from the street to the agent who barred him and other colleagues from entering the offices.

“Police did not show any order at all ... so this is an armed assault on private property, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and free enterprise,” he later told reporters.

Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents.

Chamorro went to the police headquarters to demand the return of equipment, saying that the newspaper and TV programs “are private companies attached to the commercial register and have nothing to do with organizations that are being persecuted.”

After his request, policemen in anti-riot gear emerged from the headquarters swinging batons at and kicking Chamorro, his colleagues and reporters who were at the scene to cover the event.

A witness counted at least seven journalists from international and local media, including Chamorro, who were grabbed and kicked by police.

Police chased the journalists, with some calling them “coup plotters” and threatening to confiscate cellphones and equipment.

“Three officers beat me,” said Nestor Arce, a journalist at Confidencial. “They kicked me in the leg trying to knock me down.”

“Brutal display of brute force against journalists from @confidencial_ni in Nicaragua... this regime... aims to demolish critical voices in its country,” Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco tweeted.

The offices of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights and four other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Managua were also occupied, and lawmakers canceled their permits to operate.

Ana Maria Tello, who works with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Nicaragua, expressed concern at the “increase in repression against NGOs and independent media and journalists.”

Since April, Nicaragua has been experiencing one of its worst crises since a civil war in the 1980s. Protests raged for months before a government clampdown reined them in.

At least 322 people have been killed and more than 500 are incarcerated, according to the center.

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