Nicaraguan journalist flees to US after threat

AP News
Posted: Sep 24, 2011 3:01 PM
Nicaraguan journalist flees to US after threat

A Nicaraguan newspaper said Saturday that one of its reporters has fled to the United States following what she described as threats from supporters of the ruling Sandinista party.

The director of the El Nuevo Diario newspaper, Francisco Chamorro, said the newspaper had complained to international press freedom groups about the threats against reporter Silvia Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said she had received telephone threats, and Chamorro said someone also threw a severed chicken head onto Gonzalez's patio, with her name on it.

National Police spokesman Fernando Borge told Channel 12 television Saturday that the case "had been investigated and she was given police protection."

But Gonzalez said in a call from Miami, Florida, where she fled last week, that she is afraid to return to Nicaragua.

"I am afraid that they will kill me ... and that is why I left," Gonzalez said.

She said the threats began after she wrote stories about the death of Jose Gabriel Garmendia, a former Contra rebel who fought Nicaragua's government in the 1980s and launched another uprising against President Daniel Ortega because of Ortega's plans to seek re-election.

Garmendia was killed Feb. 12 by the Nicaraguan army, which described him as a common criminal.

Ortega's candidacy in the Nov. 5 election has proved controversial, after a Supreme Court commission overturned a ban on consecutive re-election in a widely questioned ruling.

Ortega headed Nicaragua's Sandanista government from 1979 to 1985, returned to the presidency in 2006, and leads in polls in the November elections.

Gonzalez identified the people who made the threats as Sandinista sympathizers, and said the harassment may have also been sparked by her criticism of purported corruption in the Sandinista city administration of her hometown of Jinotega, in northern Nicaragua.