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Ruling party spokespersons threaten free expression organisations

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 12 July 2010, ruling party spokespersons alleged that IPYS Venezuela and Espacio Público, two nongovernmental organisations that defend freedom of expression, are members of a network of Venezuelan media outlets and journalists financed by the United States government. The alleged objective of the network is to create opportunities to attack President Hugo Chávez.

Diosdado Cabello, a member of the National Directorate of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV), and William Lara, governor of the state of Guárico, were two of the government representatives who made the allegations. Also, on 13 July, the Movement for Essential Journalism (Movimiento por el Periodismo Necesario), which is linked to the government, requested that the attorney general investigate organisations that have been accused of receiving money from abroad.

The allegations were made after journalist Eva Golinger published an article on the Internet in which she stated that, through IPYS Venezuela and Espacio Público, opposition journalists have received at least US$4 million with which to attack the government and destabilise the country.

Cabello also criticised the financial assistance given in support of freedom of expression initiatives by organisations such as the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), Freedom House, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). He even linked the financing from abroad to terrorism.

Both Golinger and Cabello stated that they will soon reveal the names of journalists and media outlet owners who have allegedly received money from the United States government.

In Venezuela, as in other countries, nongovernmental organisations receive funding from foreign institutions to help them train professionals and promote civil rights, among other activities, without this constituting a crime.

IPYS condemns these types of accusations, which represent a threat to organisations that defend and promote freedom of expression.

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