Nicaraguan police raid opposition newspaper La Prensa

Show caption Police at the entrance of La Prensa office in Managua on Friday. Photograph: Jorge Torres/EPA Nicaragua Nicaraguan police raid opposition newspaper La Prensa Only remaining print paper raided as part of ‘customs fraud and money laundering’ investigation Associated Press in Managua Sat 14 Aug 2021 11.27 BST Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share via Email

Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of the main opposition newspaper La Prensa.

The national police said the raid on Friday was part of an investigation into “customs fraud and money laundering”, and the newspaper’s offices remained under police custody.

The raid came a day after La Prensa suspended its print edition because the government’s customs office had withheld newsprint paper.

La Prensa, founded in 1926, has been critical of the president, Daniel Ortega, who has recently arrested dozens of opposition figures. The regime often uses money laundering, tax and other accusations to raid non-governmental and civic groups it disagrees with.

The paper’s editor, Fabián Medina, who was in the building at the time, said via Twitter that the police “were looking for paper” used to print the daily. He said police later allowed reporters to return to their offices, but remained in the building.

La Prensa had said it would continue an online edition, but it was unclear how long it could continue to do so. La Prensa has been the country’s only newspaper with a print edition since another opposition paper, El Nuevo Diario, closed in 2019.

On Thursday, the newspaper said in an editorial that “once again the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has withheld our paper”, referring to Ortega’s wife and vice-president, Rosario Murillo. “Until they release the raw material, we cannot continue with the print edition,” the newspaper said. The move also affects the sister paper Hoy.

This is the third time the government has withheld the newspaper’s paper or ink. The paper ceased printing for about 500 days in 2018 and 2019 amid widespread protests against the regime.

The non-governmental Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights protested against the raid and demanded respect for the employees.

Nicaragua is scheduled to hold national elections on 7 November as Ortega seeks a fourth consecutive term. He placed an opposition vice-presidential candidate under house arrest last week, then released her pending the outcome of an investigation.

Over the past two months, Ortega’s government has arrested nearly three dozen opposition figures, including seven potential challengers for the presidency.

The opposition alliance, the National Coalition, said in a statement on Monday that it did not recognise the current electoral process as a way out of Nicaragua’s political crisis and urged Nicaraguans to not recognise it either.

Later that day, authorities announced the arrest of the opposition leader Mauricio Díaz Dávila, a candidate for congress and a former ambassador to Costa Rica. He had been called to the attorney general’s office as part of an investigation for alleged acts against the state.

His party, Citizens for Liberty, said he was violently arrested. His ability to run for office had been cancelled by the electoral court three days earlier. The party’s president, Kitty Monterrey, whose Nicaraguan citizenship was withdrawn last week, called for his immediate release.