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Photographers, reporter injured while trying to report on demonstrations; IAPA concerned with continued post-election attacks

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 17 November 2008 IAPA press release:

IAPA alarmed at continued post-election attacks in Nicaragua

Calls on authorities to practice tolerance and pushes for President Ortega to meet with an international delegation from the organization

Miami (November 17, 2008) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at attacks on news media and journalists in Nicaragua, preventing them from covering the unrest following the November 9 elections.

Reporting teams from the newspapers La Prensa, El Nuevo Diario and Canal 2 planning to cover pro- and anti-government demonstrations in León were stoned and prevented by supporters of the governing party from reaching the scene.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, expressed fear for the safety of journalists in Nicaragua. "We ask the authorities, especially President Daniel Ortega, to call on all sectors to respect free speech and differences of opinion because otherwise intolerance can lead to an increase in violence, with irreparable consequences," added Rivard, editor and executive vice president of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas.

Photographers Miguel Álvarez from the French news agency Agence France Presse and Germán Miranda from La Prensa were struck and injured by rocks thrown at them. Also injured was El Nuevo Diario reporter Ary Neil Pantoja.

According to local media, the assailants, wielding clubs and machetes and waving signs bearing the slogan "Love and Reconciliation," asked the newsmen where they were from and threatened to smash the cameras and burn the vehicles of what they called the "lying liberal media."

Rivard said that since the organization met early last month in Madrid the IAPA has been requesting an interview with President Ortega to exchange views on the status of press freedom in Nicaragua. "We hope that the president will meet with us and we can discuss issues concerning freedom of expression and democracy," he declared.

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