Cabot Prize Jury Statement Condemning the Harassment of Carlos Fernando Chamorro
The Cabot Jury strongly condemns the harassment of Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro and his news organizations by the government of Daniel Ortega. Chamorro was awarded with a Maria Moors Cabot Gold Medal in 2010, when the jury cited his “truth and fairness” in the context of the country's "highly-politicized atmosphere.” These recent events constitute an escalation of violations of freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and form part of a widespread attack against independent media in Nicaragua.
On Friday, Dec. 14, police raided the offices of the online news website Confidencial and its associated television programs, Esta Semana and Esta Noche, confiscating more than 20 computers, television equipment, documents and archives. The police took over the premises and journalists have since been unable to return to their offices. A subsequent attempt by Chamorro and colleagues to demand access to the newsroom was met by anti-riot police, who are shown in videos roughing up the journalists.
Chamorro, accompanied by 30 local and international journalists, went to the courthouse on Monday, Dec. 17 to file for constitutional redress, known as amparo, to ask that police leave their offices and return their confiscated equipment and documents.
The Cabot Jury calls on the government of President Daniel Ortega to return the news organizations' property and allow the immediate reopening of Confidencial and the television programs. We demand the safety and freedom of movement of Carlos Fernando Chamorro and his staff, and that the government guarantee freedom of expression for all independent media in Nicaragua.
June Carolyn Erick, Chair
Juan Enríquez Cabot