AUGUST 14, 2007
Posted August 16, 2007
Leoncenis García, Reporte
On the afternoon of July 14, the Venezuelan Public Ministry announced in a statement that a Caracas court had issued an arrest warrant for García at its request. The statement said García, a reporter for the Caracas-based economic daily Reporte, was wanted for obstruction of justice after repeatedly failing to appear in court.
According to the Public Ministry, García was summoned six times to testify on an extortion case against Reporte's former editor José Rafael Ramírez. The reporter failed to appear every time, according to the ministry's statement. However, García told CPJ that he never received a summons.
García, who has gone into hiding, said he believes the arrest warrant is part of a campaign against him and Reporte from high-ranking officials at the state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA).
Reporte published several articles on cases of corruption in PDVSA starting in October 2006, according to local press reports and CPJ interviews. Most were published with García's byline. García told CPJ he most recently reported on links between high-ranking PDVSA officials and a scandal concerning a Venezuelan businessman who tried to illegally bring US$800,000 into Argentina on a plane that was chartered by the Argentine government.
Ramírez was detained in June on charges of soliciting money in order not to publish information in Reporte, according to The Associated Press. He is being held at a local jail while he awaits trial, according to the Public Ministry.