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Censorship continues to tighten a month after coup

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the de facto government's selective censorship of news since the 28 June 2009 coup d'état. Media outlets regarded as critical of de facto President Roberto Micheletti are being systematically obstructed. The programming of Radio Globo, one of the few media outlets still criticising the new regime, is often interrupted. Soldiers tried to force their way into the station's studios on 25 July before giving up because of opposition from demonstrators.

"Respect for basic freedoms, including freedom of the press, has been openly violated in the past month," Reporters Without Borders said. "By suspending or shutting down the operations of certain local and international broadcast media, those who staged the coup have shown they clearly want to cover up what is going on. We urge all sides to respect press freedom."

A plain-clothes police officer opposed to the coup warned Radio Globo on 25 July of an imminent raid. According to Radio Globo owner Alejandro Villatoro, the head of the National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) had been threatening to seize the station's equipment without offering any clear grounds since 5 July. Because some 400 people rushed to defend the station on 25 July following the warning, the police finally backed down.

Coverage of what is going on in Honduras has been getting steadily scarcer ever since the coup. A five-hour power outage that began minutes after the start of the coup silenced all the country's radio and TV stations. Thereafter, news media regarded as hostile to the de facto regime began being subjected to a series of discriminatory measures.

Two journalists say that they have been pressured by their own management. One of them, Allan Adális Martínez of Radio Alegre, was dismissed on 15 July for referring to President Manuel Zelaya's ousting as a "coup d'état."

Local broadcasting of international TV stations such as Telesur, Cubavisión Internacional and the Spanish-language version of CNN has been stopped. Eleven journalists employed by the Venezuelan TV stations Telesur and VTV were arrested on the night of 12 July and forced to leave the country.

The broadcasts of at least eight radio and TV stations have been interrupted for varying periods, sometimes for up to several days, in the course of the past month. In many of these cases, the interruption came after they broadcast pro-Zelaya reports. After they came back on the air, all content relating to the coup was closely controlled. The repressive measures have spared those news media that support the de facto government.

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