Nicaraguan investigative journalist receives death threats

New York, February 23, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about death threats against Nicaraguan investigative reporter Luis Galeano in the lead-up to the publication of a series of articles on official corruption.

Galeano and his colleague José Adán Silva, reporters with the Managua-based daily El Nuevo Diario, had been investigating allegations of embezzlement within Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council, El Nuevo Diario reported. On Saturday, two days before the paper published the first article in a series of investigative reports, Galeano received a call from an unknown number on his cell phone telling him that he had “72 hours to live” if the story went to press, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. The death threat was later reiterated in an anonymous letter addressed to Galeano and sent to the newspaper.

Galeano reported the threats to the national police, Carlos Larios, a reporter with El Nuevo Diario, told CPJ. Galeano and El Nuevo Diario Editor Francisco Chamorro also reported the threats to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), according to news reports. Galeano has requested police protection, he told CPJ.

 “We call on Nicaraguan authorities to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation of these disturbing threats against Luis Galeano,” CPJ Senior Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. “The Nicaraguan authorities must grant Galeano’s request for protection.”

In January, after publishing an investigative report on alleged fraud in the national Revenue Office, Galeano was warned by the director of the public office that “something is going to happen to the journalists that have written on this topic.” The newspaper accused the government of blocking the paper’s access to imported printing paper through customs in reprisal for its reporting on official corruption, according to local news reports.

A CPJ special report published in 2009 found that President Daniel Ortega’s government has maintained a hostile and antagonistic relationship with the private press. CPJ’s research shows that journalists in Nicaragua have been subjected to legal harassment, smear campaigns, and manipulation of government advertising.