Last night, OrMu ordered the shutdown and raid of 100%Noticias and the abduction of journalists Miguel Mora, Lucia Pineda Ubau, Gustavo Cerna, and Veronica Chavez. Also abducted was Joseph Hernandez, a driver for 100% Noticias, most likely for the crime of driving 100%Noticias employees around (read my first blog post on the case here), and two security guards. Chavez was released hours later. Mora was brought to the courts in Managua, where he was officially charged for “inciting hatred and violence” in violation of article 398 of the Criminal Code. Article 398 defines the crime of provoking, proposing, and conspiring to commit terrorist acts. The tweet below shows Mora as he is being transferred after his appearance at the court.
— Ismael López (@lopezismael) December 22, 2018
As of this writing, no charges have been brought against Lucia Pineda Ubau. Ms. Pineda has dual Costa Rican-Nicaraguan citizenship. The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry has requested information about Pineda Ubau’s detention, and has asked Ortega’s Interior Ministry for permission to visit her to verify her condition and offer consular support.
Veronica Chavez, managing director of 100%Noticias, spoke to local media after being released. “The police came without a warrant. They came yelling and screaming. It was like they were capturing a whole army,” said Chavez. The raid happened at around 9 pm, local time, on Friday.
According to Ms. Chavez, around 40 men forced their way into the station. “The came like burglars in the night” and surrounded the studio. The men destroyed everything in sight, disconnected the master control, and thus knocked the channel off the air. They then entered Mora’s office, threatened the occupants at gun point, cuffed them, and took everyone to El Chipote. Ms. Chavez was questioned and then released. She believes that the raid had been planned for a while.
— 100%NOTICIAS (@100noticiasni) December 22, 2018
Ms. Chavez stated that 100%Noticias “will continue [working] for the people, denouncing the arbitrary moves by the regime. We will rise from the ashes. We will rise in the name of Jesus. […] My husband is innocent, and God will protect him“.
The charges against Mora clearly build upon multiple accusations leveled against him by Orteguista sympathizers. Since December 3, there have been at least 20 filings against Mora. Accusers blame him for the deaths of family members, bodily harm, inciting violence, altering public order, kidnappings, and torture, which they allege resulted from Mora’s broadcasts on 100%Noticias. One typical accusation, reported on el19Digital, pointed out that Mora was “the intellectual author of the tortures” that his accuser was subjected to. Another complainant stated that Mora was responsible for “damages against public property, because he was one of the main actors promoting the coup and terrorism”. The complainant blames Mora for the arson of her home, alleging that it was targeted because of her being a Sandinista.
Alleging that a media broadcast incites violence that leads to actual deaths is not uncommon anywhere, but in Nicaragua, the allegations appear to be enough to railroad Mora and, by extension, criminalize journalism as a profession, as Fabian Medina, managing editor of La Prensa, points out. Mr. Medina indicated via Twitter that “condemning a journalist for inciting hatred is a ploy to criminalized the profession. Anyone that bothers the regime will be considered as someone who incites hatred. For that reason, journalism is now a crime, because true journalism exists to question power”.
Condenar a un periodista por “incitar al odio” es una artimaña para criminalizar la profesión. Todo lo que incomode al régimen será considerado “incitar al odio” por lo que el periodismo mismo se vuelve delito, ya que el verdadero periodismo existe para cuestionar al poder.
— Fabián Medina (@Fabian_Med) December 22, 2018