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Politicians threaten journalist, photographer

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 8 June 2010, political leaders with links to the government threatened and insulted journalist Carmen Marín de Finol and photographer Yunior Lugo, both from the regional newspaper "La Mañana". The incident took place in the state of Falcón, in western Venezuela.

The threats were issued after the newspaper published an 8 June story alleging that food products produced under the government's brand name, Venezuela Socialista, were being wasted. The products are distributed by social programmes.

The state's former governor, Jesús Montilla, and Rubén Mendieta, a councillor in the Falcón State Legislative Council (CLEF), have made statements on radio and TV programmes saying that the reporters' allegations are not true. They have also said that the images used in the story are the product of a photomontage carried out with the involvement of the opposition in order to destabilise the government. For this reason, Montilla and Mendieta have threatened to sue Marín de Finol and Lugo.

The journalists have said they have evidence to back up everything they published.

Lugo has received phone calls accusing him of having "sold out", being "revolting" and wanting to "overthrow the government."

The newspaper's legal counsel is intending to report the harassment and intimidation to which the reporters have been subjected to the offices of the Public Prosecutor and Ombudsman.

IPYS condemns these threats, which aim to limit freedom of expression, and will follow the case closely.

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