Venezuelan Court Sentences Journalist to Prison
In response to a Venezuelan court finding David Natera Febres, the director of the regional daily Correo del Caroní, guilty of defamation and sentencing him to four years imprisonment, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“Veneuzela’s justice system is criminalizing free and independent journalism by imprisoning a news director and striving to silence criticism of any kind,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “The court’s ruling highlights the government’s efforts to intimidate journalists and muzzle investigations into corruption within state-run companies.”
On March 11, 2016, a judge in the Venezuelan state of Bolivar found Febres guilty of defamation as a result of a 2013 report by his newspaper on an extortion scheme involving top management of the state-run iron-ore mining and processing company CVG Ferrominera Orinoco. Febres’ sentence is not yet final, but the judge has imposed a steep tax penalty, prohibited Natera Febres from leaving the country, and barred him from publishing news about the mining company. Once a final sentence is issued, Natera Febres will have ten days to appeal.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.