Venezuelan opposition media groups are facing economic harassment, IAPA says

In an article posted on July 30, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) stated its "concern" over the "abrupt economic measures against the country's journalists and news-media companies" implemented by the Venezuelan government.

According to the organization, the measures are part of a hostile campaign against media outlets conducted by the Nicolás Maduro administration. IAPA urged for "more transparency" in cases involving media businesses and professionals.

IAPA's comments stem from two recent cases in which the country's Attorney General asked that the assets of media executives critical to the government be frozen.

The first case affected the accounts of journalist Leocenis García, president of Grupo 6to Poder. The measure is part of allegations against him for money laundering, tax evasion, and financing terrorist acts. The accounts of Grupo 6to Poder were also frozen.

In a July 24 statementGarcía explained that the the frozen accounts have resulted in the suspension of media sites 6to Poder, El Comercio, 6toPoderWeb, Revista Usex, 6to Poder Datos, and 6to Poder Radio. "We did not receive a single notification. Abuse of power is behind [this measure], but we have received this blow while keeping our head up."

In the second case, Miguel Henrique Otero, editor of newspaper El Nacional, one of the main opposition media outlets in Venezuela, had his accounts frozen in accordance with a statement announced, via Twitter, by Attorney General Luisa Estela Díaz.

According to Díaz, the measure is part of an embezzlement investigation against the former mayor of Caracas, who recently sued Otero for an alleged unpaid loan of $3.5 million.

In a press release, the National Association of Journalists (CNP) said the measures "shut down media outlets in an indirect manner by fiscal, economic, and legal pressures, which compromises freedom of expression and information in the country."

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.