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Media worker kidnapped; protest criminalised

Venezuelan police fired tear gas at demonstrators and detained journalists covering protests in Aragua State, and a news editor was kidnapped in another part of the country, reports Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS). And according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), President Hugo Chávez continues to call for greater Internet regulation.

On 12 March, police detained journalists Rafael Uzcátegui, Marcos Ponce and Robert Calzadilla, members of the human rights organisation Provea, while covering demonstrations protesting the criminalisation of social protests. Their equipment was also seized.

And in western Venezuela, five masked, armed men kidnapped Carlos Ignacio Rocca, Televiza TV's news director and son of the president of the Televiza regional station, on 15 March.

Meanwhile, after a news and comments site incorrectly reported the assassination of a minister, President Chávez called for criminal prosecution to be brought against the site. The site's moderators said the false information was removed shortly after the site was notified. In a statement on television on 13 March, President Chávez said: "The Internet cannot be a completely free space, where anything is said or done. No, each country must impose its own rules."

"The government is using this case as a pretext for legitimising the regulation of a space that has until now escaped its control," said RSF.

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  • Televiza TV news director kidnapped

    Unidentified men arrived at the TV station's door, threatened and forced Carlos Ignacio Rocca into their vehicle and drove off.

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