IAPA calls for release of journalists imprisoned in Nicaragua

Solidarity on a new anniversary of the newspaper La Prensa

Miami (March 2, 2022) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) demanded the immediate release of three executives of the daily La Prensa and two journalists convicted for their defense of freedom of expression and press freedom in Nicaragua. The organization hailed the 96th anniversary of the newspaper, which continues to fulfill its informative mission despite facing profound difficulties and repression. The IAPA extended its encouragement and support to all Nicaraguan journalists, who yesterday commemorated National Journalism Day in one of the most critical moments in history for the exercise of the task of informing.

"Our solidarity with the directors, journalists, and all the newspaper staff on this anniversary of La Prensa. Despite the theft of its facilities and the imprisonment of three senior executives, La Prensa keeps the torch of freedom unharmed in the face of this dictatorship, as it did against others in the past," said IAPA President Jorge Canahuati, CEO of Grupo Opsa, of Honduras.

Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, general manager of La Prensa and IAPA vice-president for Nicaragua, has been imprisoned since August 14, 2021, accused of laundering money, goods and assets. Also imprisoned are Pedro Joaquín Chamorro and Cristiana Chamorro, the latter under house arrest. Both are members of the newspaper's board of directors. The regime of President Daniel Ortega closed and has kept the newspaper's headquarters occupied since August 13. Nevertheless, La Prensa continues publishing in digital format.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, expressed solidarity to "La Prensa and the Nicaraguan journalists who are fighting to exercise their profession in freedom, without pressure, without repression, without reprisals." The editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior added: "We demand from Daniel Ortega's government due process and the release of our regional vice-president in Nicaragua and director of La Prensa, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, imprisoned since August 14, 2021."

In trials held behind closed doors, journalists Miguel Mora and Miguel Mendoza were sentenced to 13 and 9 years in prison, respectively, for alleged conspiracy against national integrity. Mora was director of the 100% Noticias channel and a pre-candidate in last November's presidential elections. Mendoza, an independent sports journalist, was also sentenced for the crime of disseminating false news.

Canahuati and Jornet demanded the immediate release of the directors of La Prensa and all "journalists' prisoners of conscience."

Since the beginning of the 2018 social protests against the Ortega government, an estimated 120 journalists emigrated, mainly to Costa Rica, the United States, and Spain, according to data from the Human Rights Collective Nicaragua Nunca Más. The most recent case is that of María Flordeliz Ordóñez, collaborator of the digital channel Notimatv, who left the country due to aggressions suffered by agents of the National Police and government sympathizers.

On February 15, the Parliament canceled the legal status of six NGOs, among them PEN International-Nicaragua.

For two consecutive years, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba have been without press freedom with negative results in the Chapultepec Index. This IAPA tool measures the performance of institutions in terms of freedom of expression and press.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.