For the second time this past week, the Nicaraguan Prosecutor’s Office used its “interviews” with independent journalists, cited as witnesses in the case of alleged money laundering against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, to question the work of the journalists, indicating they infringed the Special Cybercrime Law, approved in October 2020.
During the “interview” they attended on Thursday, June 10, Fabian Medina and Eduardo Enriquez, editors at the La Prensa newspaper, were also questioned for supposedly violating the Cybercrime Law, known as the “Gag Law.”
On June 8, journalist Wilfredo Miranda was the first to be questioned by the Prosecutor’s Office for allegedly violating said legislation.
When leaving the Prosecutor’s Office Fabian Medina explained that he has not had “any relationship with the Foundation” and that what he noticed during the interrogation, is that “there is an attempt to intimidate journalists, claiming what we do is a crime.”
Medina, author of the book “El Preso 198” (Prisoner 198), in which he portrays a profile of President Daniel Ortega, explained that the prosecutor who conducted the interrogation insisted on asking who his sources were and whether he knew that the work he was doing, citing some of his op-ed pieces, “is a crime.”
“They didn’t put it in the minutes, but they mentioned it to me (the Cybercrime Law) and insisted that many of my writings constitute a crime,” said Medina.
The journalist warned that this type of accusation, during interrogations, must be seen as a wake-up call” because “there is an attempt to turn the exercise of journalism into a crime.” He said such violates “a fundamental right of Nicaraguan society, for journalists to work without fear of being imprisoned for it.”
Medina highlights that, although the Ortega regime seeks to intimidate journalists, the profession “isn’t silenced” and “the more they are hitting journalism, the stronger its voice. They can imprison, exile, kill journalists, but journalism will continue speaking, because silence is also a cry.”
He added that his conscience “is clear because he has not committed any crime” and will attend every citation to which he is called, although he emphasized that for now the Prosecutor’s Office has not indicated whether he will be summoned again.”
Prosecutor questions “fake news”
Eduardo Enriquez also complained that, during the interrogation, the prosecutor who interviewed him mentioned the Cybercrime Law and he was accused of allegedly publishing “fake news.”
“The questions that are reflected (in the minutes) about the interviews are on the issue of the relationship with the Foundation and the programs we had with it. What’s curious is that what is not reflected in the declaration is that they suddenly start talking about cybercrimes, that we create fake news,” said Enriquez.
He added that he made it clear to the prosecutor who interrogated him that his questions “did not make any sense and the accusations completely false.” Subsequently, he explained, he requested that he give him an example of fake news for which he was questioning him, and the official could not give him an example.
Enriquez believes the type of questioning used by prosecutors during the interviews is done to “intimidate and frighten” the journalist, because “it has absolutely nothing to do with what they are investigating” in the case of alleged money laundering open against the Violeta Barrios Foundation.
Enriquez said the Prosecutor’s Office requested documents from him, which he must deliver on June 15, on his relationship with the Foundation, within the framework of the support and agreements signed by the newspaper La Prensa.
Both journalists agree that despite the persecution, independent journalism will remain firm, informing Nicaraguans.