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Globovisión station target of teargas attack by radical group

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the 1 January 2009 teargas attack on the Caracas headquarters of privately-owned television news station Globovisión. Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by La Piedrita, a radical group based in the west Caracas slum of 23 de Enero that has also claimed responsibility for previous attacks on news media critical of President Hugo Chávez's government.

"La Piedrita has yet again acted on its insane view that certain privately-owned media should be regarded as 'military targets'," Reporters Without Borders said. "The government disowned the group's stance after a physical attack on Globovisión journalists in October, but its disavowal should have been followed by judicial measures and the 1 January attack shows that such measures have been too long in coming. Those responsible for this most recent incident must be identified and brought to justice before they do anything irreparable."

The teargas canister was thrown at the Globovisión building by two individuals on a motorcycle. It went off after landing on the roof and discharged teargas into an air-conditioning duct with the result that the building had to be evacuated. Leaflets signed by La Piedrita, criticising Globovisión and the daily "El Nacional", were found at the scene.

Since September 2008, La Piedrita, a radically pro-Chávez group, has been responsible for two similar attacks on Globovisión, an attack on the daily "El Nuevo País" and an attack on the home of reporter Marta Colomina. The government condemned the group's "political infantilism" after it attacked a Globovisión crew that was covering a demonstration in 23 de Enero on 10 October.

President Chávez regards Globovisión as a "coup monger" and "traitor to the motherland" and had an administrative investigation brought against the station for alleged "violation of the electoral law" after regional elections on 23 November. The move has been widely criticised, including by members of the National Electoral Council.

For further information on a 23 September attack on Globovisión, claimed by La Piedrita, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97325

For further information on the 10 October attack on Globovisión, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97650

For further information on the attack on "El Nuevo País", see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97661

For further information on the Colomina case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99095

For further information on the investigation of Globovision for allegedly violating the electoral law, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98978

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