Armando.Info Gagged by CONATEL Under Court Order

Broadcasting authority Conatel informed four journalists of website Armando.Info that they’re now legally gagged. They can’t say or report anything related to CLAP businessman Alex Saab.

Photo: retrieved

A new threshold of Venezuelan censorship has just been reached: Journalist Roberto Deniz, of investigative website Armando.Info, got a letter from broadcasting authority Conatel, informing him that he and his colleagues Joseph Poliszuk, Ewald Scharfenberg and Alfredo Meza are banned from “…publishing and spreading through digital outlets, specially the site Armando.Info, mentions that go against the honor and reputation of citizen Alex Nain Saab…

Deniz, Poliszuk and Scharfenberg reacted to this legal gag on their Twitter accounts:

“In Venezuela, the justice (system) and now Conatel claim that, at the expense of Mr. Alex Saab’s “reputation” and “honor,” journalists can’t investigate the web behind the CLAP business.”

“First they offered ‘work’, then they threatened on social networks, later they sued, launched cyber-attacks, blocked the (Armando.Info) web page for a while and now, they try to formalize censorship through no longer a court, but an entity of the Executive Branch.”

(Note: Conatel works under the Communication and Information Ministry’s banner.)

“Warning: Conatel is not only preventing the Armando.Info journalists from (talking about) the gang of CLAP’s commodity imports. Through an order it also demands cable and ISP operators to stop us from speaking and sharing our reports. That Conatel mobilizes for just one person speaks of that person’s closeness with the established (and factual) power.”

Here’s a quick recap for those unaware: After the publication of a couple of reports about his involvement on the government’s CLAP program, Mr. Saab filed a lawsuit in a Caracas court against the four aforementioned journalists, who were also harassed in social media. Eventually, the four of them had to leave Venezuela before the same court issued (at Saab’s request) a prohibition to leave the country last month.

Armando.Info’s website was a victim of cyber-attacks before getting blocked in local ISPs.

Other digital outlets have been targets too, part of a larger clampdown against the remnants of independent media in Venezuela, along with the arrests of journalists and the closing of newspapers. Even hegemony-allied private outlets aren’t fully safe.

Our deepest solidarity to Armando.Info and others facing the pressure.