Nicaraguan police raid news network critical of Ortega

MANAGUA (Reuters) - Nicaraguan police raided the offices of a major broadcaster and arrested its director late on Friday, family members and co-workers said, in the latest crackdown on critics of President Daniel Ortega’s increasingly authoritarian government.

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The broadcaster, 100% Noticias, was the only independent 24-hour news network that covered the country’s deepening political unrest, one of its worst crises since a civil war in the 1980s.

The government has sought to rein in months of protests seeking Ortega’s ouster.

The director of 100% Noticias, Miguel Mora, had taken refuge in the broadcaster’s offices for the past three weeks, citing threats he said he received from Ortega’s government.

“They can do everything they want to me, imprison me, kidnap me, but we’ll be here until the final consequences,” Mora told Reuters on Thursday during an interview at his office.

Nicaraguan prosecutors have accused Mora of instigating hate, among other crimes, which prompted a judge to order the closure of 100% Noticias and Mora’s arrest.

A government spokesman declined to comment on Saturday.

Ortega’s government had already sought to stop critical coverage by ordering cable and satellite television providers to suspend the 100% Noticias signal, as well as raiding other outlets and cutting their ability to broadcast.

Last week, police raided the offices of Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the son of former president Violeta Chamorro, who runs the digital newspaper Confidencial and hosts television news programs. Chamorro blamed the raid and seizure of equipment on Ortega’s efforts to purge the country of dissent.

Since April, at least 322 people have been killed and more than 500 have been incarcerated, according to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, a group now blacklisted by the government.

On Wednesday the government expelled two missions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that were investigating violence during anti-government protests.

Authorities also seized the assets of 10 blacklisted non-governmental organizations, blocking them from operating and dealing another blow to civil society.

Pro-government lawmakers accuse the organizations of receiving money to finance a “coup.”

Ortega’s opponents accuse the veteran leftist of attempting to cement an authoritarian family dynasty along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, whom he chose to be his vice president.

Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Editing by Daniel Wallis