Costa Rica’s Freedom of Expression and Press Institute (IPLEX) decried the Nicaraguan government’s “arbitrary actions” in handling the case of Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro.
IPLEX said the government’s use of political power to attack Chamorro, who is being investigated for suspicion of money laundering, is “illegitimate and highly worrisome.” (See related story on Page N6 in today’s Nica Times.)
Chamorro’s Center of Media Investigation is one of a wide array of groups being investigated for suspicion of money laundering. No charges have been filed, but prosecutors raided Chamorro’s offices last week and seized 15,000 files and three computers.
Chamorro is the son of former Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro and Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, the editor of the La Prensa newspaper, who was murdered in 1978 under the regime of dictator Anastasio Somoza. Violeta Chamorro defeated incumbent President Daniel Ortega in a 1990 election.
Carlos Fernando Chamorro said Ortega is using his political power to go after his critics. Chamorro’s weekly El Confidencial has investigated allegedly corrupt Sandinista land deals.
The government claims Chamorro is illegally funneling funds from foreign governments to a Nicaraguan women’s rights organization, The Autonomous Women’s Movement, that isn’t legally registered to receive funds.
IPLEX said Chamorro and his organization have contributed positively to Nicaraguan society.
“Independence, investigation, rigor and well-founded criticism are essential elements to the ethical and free exercise of journalism. We are concerned that the difficult situation of (Chamorro) is a symptom of … a worrisome retrocession in the evolution of Nicaraguan press,” IPLEX said.
IPLEX called for Nicaraguan authorities to cease the harassment campaign and to show respect for freedom of expression.