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Reporter and her family receive death threats in polarised pre-election climate

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders voices its support for Silvia González, the national daily "El Nuevo Diario"'s correspondent in the northern city of Jinotega, who gave a news conference on 5 August 2011 to denounce the repeated death threats she has received on her mobile phone against herself and her young children.

Backed by various groups including the Permanent Commission for Human Rights (CPDH) and the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH), González said she is no longer able to work normally because of the atmosphere of terror in which she lives.

The Jinotega police recently arrested a 21-year-man, said to be a government supporter, on suspicion of being the source of the threats against González. But González said she continues to fear for her safety and suspects that the police have not carried out a full investigation.

"The solidarity we express for González is due above all to the fact that she is a female reporter, working in isolation as a provincial correspondent and exposed to immediate physical danger," Reporters Without Borders said.

"She needs proper protection. We also think she is right to suspect that aspects of this case are not being explored because of the very sensitive nature of the story she was recently covering. The atmosphere prevailing in the run-up to the 6 November general elections is weighing heavily on 'El Nuevo Diario', whose staff received similar threats after covering cases of alleged corruption."

González thinks the "warnings" are linked to a series of articles she began writing in January about Gabriel José "Yajob" Garmendia, a former commander of the "Contra" guerrillas which the United States armed in the 1980s in order to combat the government established after the 1979 Sandinista revolution.

Garmendia, who had said he was willing to take up arms again against the current government of Daniel Ortega, was murdered in February in unclear circumstances. Other former "Contras", now linked to the opposition, have accused members of the army's special forces of carrying out the murder. Both the armed forces and the authorities in charge of the investigation have strongly denied this accusation.

"El Nuevo Diario" took care to report both sides of the story. But the former "Contra"'s family has accused the press of reporting only the official version and journalists from several media outlets were physically attacked at Garmendia's funeral.

"This situation does not bode well, especially as the election campaign has barely begun," Reporters Without Borders added. "We urge media executives and editors of all political leanings to act responsibly and be careful not to expose their reporters and correspondents in the field to unnecessary risks."

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