Director of critical news Web site resigns after threats

JUNE 27, 2007
Posted July 17, 2007

Roger Santodomingo, Noticiero Digital

Santodomingo, director of the Internet news site Noticiero Digital, resigned from his post after his 9-year old son was handed a threatening letter at school that accused the journalist of working for the U.S. government and against Venezuela, according to CPJ interviews and press reports.

Santodomingo and his wife, also a journalist, were participating in a street protest against the closure of the country’s oldest television station, RCTV, when they received an urgent call from their son’s school, Santodomingo told CPJ. When the journalist and his wife arrived at the school, they were told that their young son had been handed an anonymous letter, later reviewed by CPJ, accusing Santodomingo of having “sold his homeland for a few dollars,” and warning that his son “should learn to cross the street and not to talk to strangers.” Santodomingo told CPJ that he immediately reported the threat to local authorities. A few hours later, he resigned from his post as director of the news Web site.

The journalist said that he has received multiple threats since February to his personal and work e-mail addresses. There have also been anonymous postings on the Web site, while an unidentified individual slipped a threatening letter under the front door of his home in Caracas. The threatening messages accused him of working for the U.S. government, and detailed his son’s daily routine. Santodomingo also said that official media outlets had led a campaign since February that accused him of being a U.S. spy because of postings on his Web site critical of President Hugo Chávez’s government.

On July 4, Santodomingo’s car inexplicably caught on fire outside his home at 1:30 a.m., the journalist told CPJ. A few days later, Santodomingo received a new e-mail warning that “we toyed with your car, your house is next.”

The journalist said that he informed the anti-terrorism branch of Venezuela’s judicial police about every threat but does not know if there is an investigation. Santodomingo and his wife asked for police protection for their son but it was denied.