Freedom House condemns Venezuela after CNN shutdown

Venezuela has been severely criticised by democracy and rights promotion group Freedom House after banning CNN en Espanol over a report that passports were sold from the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq to suspected terrorists

by the commentator on 16 February 2017 22:33

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Freedom House, the Washington D.C based rights and democracy organization, on Thursday issued a strong condemnation of the Venezuelan government after it ordered cable providers to take down CNN en Espanol and one other news provider.

Carlos Ponce, Freedom House director for Latin American programs, said in a press release: “The government’s blocking of TV news broadcasts highlights the Maduro administration’s attempt to stifle reporting and debate about its actions, and is an attack on freedom of expression for all Venezuelans.”

The statement added: “The government’s claim that CNN’s reporting is intended to cause political unrest is a gross distortion of the workings of a free press.”

According to details accompanying the press release, on February 6, CNN en Español ran a story alleging that Venezuelan officials had sold passports from the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq.

Some of the recipients of the passports were said to be suspected terrorists.

The state Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), an agency of the Venezuelan government, described the report as "direct aggressions against the peace and democratic stability" of the country and, on Wednesday February 15, ordered the broadcasts and those of the news channel TV Azteca to be banned from the airwaves.

Freedom House noted that Venezuela is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2016.

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