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Radio journalist pushed into car, threatened at gunpoint in Venezuela

On 23 August 2013, radio journalist Gonzalo Albano was threatedned and intimidated by unknown persons. Albano works for Class 98.7 FM in San Carlos, Cojedes, which is owned by Unión Radio. Someone pointed a gun at his head and told him to “stop talking shit” on the radio and said the warning was also for Germán Lozano, the station's news editor. Albano explained that the threats took place after he covered stories on alleged corruption in the regional government.

Albano told IPYS-Venezuela that on the morning of 23 August he was stopped by an armed man who pushed him into his vehicle, not far from the journalist's home. Albano was told to keep his head down and that for his own good he should stop harming the local government with things he says on his radio show. The journalist said to tell his colleagues to do the same. Lozano said he had not received any direct threats.

“This is a warning. Next time you will pay with your life”, the man told Albano. He also said he knows where the journalist lives, where his family lives, and what places he frequents. The threats lasted about 10 minutes and then the journalist was pushed out of the car. Albano said two other people had been in the car, but he could not identify them.

Albano said that recently, he had shared stories of people who are against a Cojedes state constitutional project that would regulate public authorities in the state. The proposal comes from the regional government and is supported by officials in the federal government.

The journalist has reported the threats to the public prosecutor. The same day he was given a protection order for himself and his family. On 26 August military intelligence officers did an investigation, which included checking information on his mobile phone.

Earlier in 2013, Albano said he received anonymous calls relating to articles he had written about safety issues and social problems for the daily La Opinión in June. In the calls he was told to tone down his reports and stop doing investigative journalism.

The threats he has received, including the most recent, are violations of free expression and put in danger Albano's life and the safety of journalists.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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