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Journalists Demand Nicaragua Stop Attacking Reporters

NOEL KING, HOST:

Journalism advocacy groups are calling for the Nicaraguan government to end its attacks on the media. The government of Costa Rica has now joined in. Nicaragua's strongman President Daniel Ortega has imprisoned a television journalist who has Costa Rican citizenship. Here's reporter Maria Martin.

MARIA MARTIN, BYLINE: In the last two weeks, the Ortega government has intensified its repression of civil society groups and media outlets in Nicaragua, raiding several media organizations, closing one and imprisoning journalists.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Yelling in Spanish).

MARTIN: This is the sound as dozens of heavily armed police brutally shove journalist Carlos Chamorro and his staff with nightsticks and plastic shields outside police headquarters in Managua. Chamorro, director of the digital outlet Confidencial and one of the most respected journalists in Central America, had come to place an official complaint after Confidencial's offices were raided and its equipment damaged in mid-December.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARLOS CHAMORRO: (Speaking Spanish).

MARTIN: Chamorro continues to produce programs like this one examining the embattled state of Nicaragua's media. But according to reports, he does it practically in hiding. Other media outlets have fared worse. The director of the television station 100% Noticias - 100% News - Miguel Mora and its news director Lucia Pineda were kidnapped and taken into custody after the station's equipment was destroyed. They're now in the infamous El Chipote prison, charged with fomenting hate and terrorism, their special concern about journalist Pineda, who hasn't been allowed to see her family nor human rights representatives nor the Costa Rican consul.

Pineda holds dual Nicaraguan and Costa Rican citizenship. This weekend, Costa Rica's President Carlos Alvarado, himself a former journalist, stated that his neighboring country is most concerned about the ever increasing violations of human rights and press freedoms in Nicaragua.

Meanwhile, international press groups such as Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Inter American Press Association are calling for President Ortega to end the escalation of attacks against media he sees as critical of his government. Ortega and his supporters maintain they support freedom of expression in Nicaragua. For NPR News, I'm Maria Martin.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLITZ & SUPPE'S "ERNANI") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.