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Journalist claims cancellation of his television programme is due to government pressure

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 26 August 2008 IAPA press release:

Nicaraguan journalist's claims raise IAPA concern

Miami (August 26, 2008) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern today over a Nicaraguan television journalist's claim that he is being persecuted by President Daniel Ortega for criticizing the government.

Jaime Arellano told the local news media that last week's cancellation of his opinion program "El 2 en la Nación", aired on Televicentro Canal 2, was due to pressures put on the channel's owners whose broadcast license renewal is currently under review. He said he has also received death threats and plans to take the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, said that, while his organization respects the right of media to change their programming according to their editorial criteria, "we cannot fail to express our concern because it is also true that the Nicaraguan government has consistently adopted coercive measures that work against the free practice of journalism."

Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City-based newspaper Prensa Libre, added that the IAPA has drawn attention to a countless number of acts against freedom of the press in Nicaragua, "not for the purpose of defending media companies but so that every Nicaraguan's human right to information is guaranteed."

Arellano's complaint opened the debate once again over the process of granting broadcast licenses. A number of opposition legislators jointly drew attention to a delay by the National Assembly in passing a law that that would extend broadcast licenses to 10 years, declaring that such a step would prevent the government from using renewal of these licenses as a weapon of intimidation.

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