Venezuelan intelligence office investigates newspaper journalists who reported on corruption

Venezuelan newspaper employees from La Prensa de Barinas must provide the Bolivarian Intelligence Service information related to various investigations initiated after corruption allegations were published in the newspaper, reported El Universal on Wednesday, March 28.

Lawyer and newspaper columnist Omar Arévalo, chief editor Estela Tamy, and political journalist Dimas Medina were called to testify about the newspaper's reporting on a network of extortions in the city of Barinas.

After Arévalo first reported about bribes paid to workers to issue building permits in the city, a series of pamphlets were published against the journalist, trying to destroy his reputation, according to the International Freedom of Expression Exchange. In a flyer titled "The dirty little puddle," the columnist is accused of robbery, fraud, and obscene acts supposedly committed during his college years. According to the columnist, the attacks are related to the reports made in his column.

According to the Press and Society Institute, this is not the first time that the columnist has been insulted and threatened. In February of this year, he received a threatening call saying that, if he were to continue attacking the government, he would be killed. The threat was made after Arévalo's report on irregularities within the administration of the local government. Other threats related to his reports were also made in 2011.