VENEZUELA Working conditions for journalists and the media have worsened in Venezuela. Numerous threats and acts of intimidation have occurred, several of them involving the participation of government officials. Attorney General Ram6n Escobar Salom alleged publicly there was a "a conspiracy of shysters and corrupt judges" to put journalists in jail. Speaking at a seminar on "Denunciation and Liberty" in Caracas last month, Escobar Salom said the aim was to curtail journalists' freedom of expression. He warned it could imperil democratic rule. Congressman Oscar Yanes, as a journalist and as chairman of the House of Representatives' media committee, declared that the actions of the government seemed designed to silence investigative journalism. In recent months, there have been incidents of spying, threats, attacks on journalists' and editors' homes and slur campaigns. In addition, the presidency was said to be using the judiciary to keep journalists and editors in check in their news reporting. The most significant cases included: 1. According to denunciations made by the newspaper El Nacional, backed up by tape recordings, the directors of the Central Information Office of the PreSidency and of the Military Intelligence Service, proposed tapping the home telephones of certain journalists who had denounced alleged cases of corruption by government officials. 2. The Minister of Information has systematically criticized media which have made denunciations involving government officials. 3. El Universal columnist Jose Vicente Rangel accused the government of waging a campaign to discredit him and other journalists, and implicated the presidency. 4. On June 13, the house of journalist Rafael Poleo, editor of the newspaper El Nuevo Pais and the magazine Zeta of Caracas, were attacked by a group of individuals, among whom investigators said were two members of the Military Intelligence Service (DIM) and at least three from the Department of Intelligence and Prevention Services. (DISIP). One of the DIM agents, Winston Vivas Useche, was said to be a contact between high government officials and the assailants. He was arrested by the Judicial Police and handed over to the DIM. He was later found dead at DIM headquarters before he was due to be interrogated by a judge. 5. The managing editor of El Nacional, Alfredo Pena, received anonymous telephoned death threats after his newspaper published a series of articles alleging corruption involving persons with close ties to the presidency. 6. The same day the charges sent by the Venezuela commission to the IAPA were published in Caracas, the Caracas mayor's office peremptorily ordered stopped one of the presses at the newspaper El Nacional. The reason given was "noise pollution." The press in question is more than 11 years old and has operated without interruption in the same place. No complaints had previously been filed.