Nicaragua’s “Confidencial” News Publication Denounces Espionage

October 10, 2016 |

Army official demanded access to website’s passwords.

By Wilfredo Miranda Aburto  (Confidencial)

Carlos Fernando Chamorro with Vilma Nuñez of CENIDH. He noted that the Constitution forbids the Army from practicing political espionage.

Carlos Fernando Chamorro with Vilma Nuñez of CENIDH. He noted that the Constitution forbids the Army from practicing political espionage.

HAVANA TIMES —Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the director of Confidencial, denounced on Friday acts of intimidation and political espionage carried out by Nicaraguan Army officials and the Sandinista Front party. He lodged his complaint with the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH).

Chamorro explained how two Confidencial workers – one from administration and the other in the technical department – were summoned on separate occasions by a Nicaraguan Army official and by FSLN party operatives, in order to try and get information about how this independent newspaper works, as well as its computer security information.

“In a great act of civility and integrity, both Confidencial employees, refused the attempt of the government agents to submit them to intimidation outright, and they refused to provide them with the information they wanted via illegal and immoral means,” Chamorro stated.

CENIDH’s president and legal director, Vilma Nunez and Gonzalo Carrion, accompanied the journalist, who also stated that he wouldn’t file any kind of report with the Nicaraguan Police and the Army. “In the police force, there are officials and frameworks capable of investigating and clearing up these events, however they lack autonomy, as this institution is controlled by the political orders that come down from above,” he explained.

The journalist reminded those present that in 2013 he took a report to the head of the Army, where then Confidencial journalist, Ismael Lopez, was subjected to acts of harassment and political espionage by officials from the Defense Information Directive (DID). However, the institution refused to investigate, claiming that they “don’t carry out acts of political espionage,” which is forbidden by the National Constitution.

The FSLN operatives demanded information about government officials who visit Confidencial, diplomatic sources and rural leaders who were demanding that the canal law be repealed. Furthermore, they demanded access to technological devices used to transfer TV programs Esta Semana and Esta Noche to Channel 12.

“CENIDH’s experience makes us aware that impunity has been established as a justice system in Nicaragua. There’s no way to carry out an investigation, there’s no way that the government will assume its responsibility,” noted Vilma Nunez.

The new report specifies that on September 20th, a Confidencal employee from the administration team was summoned via an acquaintance to meet in a public place with two people named Rafael Moreno and Ramon Abarca, in order to talk about an alleged job opportunity.

Moreno pointed out to the employee that they needed information about this media platform, claiming that Confidencial “was causing harm to FSLN activities during their electoral campaign.”

Among other things, the FSLN operatives demanded information about government officials who visit Confidencial, diplomatic sources and rural leaders who were demanding that the canal law be repealed. Furthermore, they demanded access to technological devices used to transfer TV programs Esta Semana and Esta Noche to Channel 12.

Two days later, on September 22nd, a person who identified himself as a Nicaraguan Army ID card, by the name of Walter Abarca showed up at the house of one of Confidencial’s employees in the technological department.

“According to what we have confirmed in the Army’s own records, Walter Ramon Abarca Flores is an official who was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant on September 2, 2014,” Chamorro detailed, who kept the names of Confidencial employees anonymous in order to protect their integrity.

Abarca demanded information about Confidencial’s security set up, its website passwords and access to the antivirus information security system. However, the Confidencial technician didn’t buckle under the army official’s pressure and decided to file a report with the CENIDH.

According to Vilma Nunez, these acts of intimidation and espionage violate our human rights, especially that of freedom of speech. She said she will immediately send a report to Edison Lanza the special freedom of speech court reporter at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH). The report will also be presented to similar bodies and non-governmental organizations such as Articulo 19 and Reporters without Borders.

“We know that this will raise some issues. Those who go around encouraging espionage know the people they tried to bribe, they’re going to find them and we’re ready to defend them,” Nunez said.

Chamorro said that Cardinal Leopoldo Lopez and Bishop Silvio Baez already know about these events, and they are the “moral guarantors” for the report. He urged citizens not to subject themselves to fear and self-censorship. “Freedom of speech is a constitutional right, and it’s up to Nicaragua’s citizens to defend this right,” he noted.

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