Editor Carlos Fernando Chamorro calls the raid of Confidencial's headquarters "absolutely illegal": “They have taken our newsroom ... They are physically closing down our offices by taking them militarily,” Chamorro told the Guardian newspaper by phone.
“The national police has been transformed into a delinquent force by its supreme chief, the dictator Daniel Ortega.”
No reason was given for the raid and looting of the office according to Chamorro. Media reported that journalists who were protesting the raid at a police station in Nicaraguan capital Managua were kicked, beaten and dispersed with force.
Free Press Unlimited gives financial support to Confidencial so the media company can maintain production under difficult circumstances. The media house puts out a news website, a weekly print magazine and two weekly TV programmes.
Free Press Unlimited also supports the psychological wellbeing of Confidencial's journalists, who are doing their jobs under extreme pressure. Confidencial is exemplary in Nicaragua in developing new audiences and working creatively with new business models.
Serious attention to Central America required
Free Press Unlimited urges the Dutch parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay more serious attention to Central America. Lawmakers and the ministry should step up efforts to raise awareness in national and international forums of the violent repression taking place in Nicaragua under the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo. The raid of our partner Confidencial is symptomatic of this repression.
Free Press Unlimited director Leon Willems: "Nicaragua's population has been protesting for reforms for months. They deserve our solidarity and support. What they need is a lot more pressure on the Nicaraguan government to guarantee the unrestricted and safe functioning of independent media. The Nicaraguan government must comply with its primary responsibility to protect journalists. In practical terms, this includes repairs of the damage caused at Confidencial as well as financial compensation for the replacement of their equipment. Any further legal action against Confidencial should be halted. The Netherlands should insist on this in international forums such as the Organisation of American States (OAS), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)."
Raid not an isolated incident
Human rights organisations say the raid of Confidencial is no isolated incident. The Ortega government is carrying out a protracted offensive against media and human rights activists. On April 21 journalist Ángel Gahona of local news website El Meridiano was shot dead while live-streaming an anti-government demonstration on Facebook. Other journalists claim they have been shot at by snipers. Journalists of TV station 100% Noticias have been threatened and held in short-term detention. In April, pro-government mobs set fire to Radio Darío and in early December police stormed the radio station, detaining four reporters and seizing equipment.
Local human rights activists have been plagued by cyber attacks and accused of financing terrorist organisations. Earlier this year, the Nicaraguan government deported American-Austrian journalist Carl David Goette-Luciak, human rights activist Ana Quiros and expelled a United Nations human rights delegation.