Nicaraguan police last night entered the offices of 100% Noticias, a privately owned cable and internet news station in Managua, ordered the station off the air, and arrested the channel’s director Miguel Mora and news director Lucía Pineda Ubau, according to news reports. In a court appearance this morning, authorities charged Mora with crimes including “inciting hate and violence” and did not grant him access to a lawyer, according to reports.
“The raid on 100% Noticias is an unacceptable escalation of the Nicaraguan government’s crackdown on the country’s independent media,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Nicaraguan authorities should immediately release the detained journalists, allow the channel to resume broadcasting, and end this desperate campaign to silence crucial voices.”
Police also confiscated broadcasting equipment from the station, Verónica Chávez, a 100% Noticias journalist and Mora’s wife, said in a press conference today.
The raid on 100% Noticias is the second police action against a major independent news outlet in just over a week. On December 13, police broke into the Managua office of the privately owned Confidencial news website and its sister television programs, “Esta Noche” and “Esta Semana,” and confiscated equipment and documents.
The director of 100% Noticias, Miguel Mora, had taken refuge in the broadcaster’s offices for the past three weeks, citing threats he said he received from Ortega’s government.
“They can do everything they want to me, imprison me, kidnap me, but we’ll be here until the final consequences,” Mora told Reuters on Thursday during an interview at his office.
Ortega’s government had already sought to stop critical coverage by ordering cable and satellite television providers to suspend the 100% Noticias signal, as well as raiding other outlets and cutting their ability to broadcast.
Last week, police raided the offices of Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the son of former president Violeta Chamorro, who runs the digital newspaper Confidencial and hosts television news programs. Chamorro blamed the raid and seizure of equipment on Ortega’s efforts to purge the country of dissent.
Since April, at least 322 people have been killed and more than 500 have been incarcerated, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, a group now blacklisted by the government.