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Venezuela court orders TV channel assets seizure

Venezuela court orders TV channel assets seizure

Venezuela's Supreme Court has ordered the seizure of about $5.7 million in assets belonging to a television channel that takes a critical line against President Hugo Chavez, a lawyer for the station said Thursday.
The channel Globovision had been trying to challenge a $2 million fine imposed by regulators for its coverage of a prison uprising last year.
Ricardo Antela, a lawyer for the news channel, said the Supreme Court notified the channel on Thursday of the embargo on its assets.
"It's an embargo for nearly triple the fine that had originally been imposed on Globovision," Antela said.
The Supreme Court did not immediately comment on the matter, not did government officials.
Globovision still has three pending appeals seeking to challenge the fine, while two have been rejected by courts, Antela said.
In one of those cases, the Supreme Court upheld the $2 million fine against Globovision in March.
Globovision, a 24-hour news network, has been the only anti-Chavez channel on the air since another opposition-aligned station, RCTV, was forced off cable and satellite TV in 2010. RCTV had been booted off the open airwaves in 2007.
Telecommunications regulators last year imposed the fine against Globovision accusing it of "apologizing for crime," "altering the public order" and promoting political intolerance during its coverage of an intervention by troops to quash rioting at El Rodeo prison.
The commission's director general, Pedro Maldonado, said at the time that for four days Globovision broadcast 18 emotional reports with relatives of the prisoners and repeated them almost 300 times, adding the sound of gunfire over the reports.
The June 2011 prison riot erupted after troops raided one of two adjacent prisons looking for weapons. The raid set off gunfights that left three dead, and the standoff finally ended with negotiations after 27 days. Authorities said four inmates who escaped also were slain by soldiers.
The station has accused Chavez's government of trying to shut it down, and has said it did nothing wrong. Globovision's majority owner, Guillermo Zuloaga, fled into exile in 2010 after a court issued an arrest warrant on charges of usury and conspiracy. He has accused prosecutors of carrying out a vendetta on orders from Chavez.
Maria Fernanda Flores, a vice president of the channel, denounced the Supreme Court's latest decision as "a new blow against freedom of expression and a way to intimidate" Globovision ahead of the country's Oct. 7 presidential election.
Chavez is seeking another six-year term in the vote. Globovision has provided an important outlet for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles to get out his message, while state television and other state-run media are largely monopolized by coverage of Chavez's appearances.
"This decision doesn't surprise us because we're about to begin an election campaign in which the government tends to take judicial actions to intimidate the independent private media," Flores told reporters.
"Don't worry, Globovision is going to be in the election campaign," she said. "We don't kneel before power."


Updated : 2021-07-28 23:21 GMT+08:00