Protesters stand behind a burned bus during an anti-government rally in Tipitapa, Nicaragua on June 14. A Nicaraguan reporter who is covering the unrest says armed attackers broke into his home, beat him, and stole his identification documents. (Reuters/Oswaldo Rivas)

Armed attackers rob, threaten Nicaraguan reporter in his home

June 15, 2018 6:00 PM ET

Two armed men broke into the home of newspaper reporter Josué Garay in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua early on June 10, 2018, beat him and stole his phone and identification documents, the journalist told CPJ by phone. Garay told CPJ he believes the attack was an attempt to intimidate him and discourage him from reporting on the country's political crisis.

Garay said he was woken shortly after 2 a.m when the men entered the bedroom of his apartment. The attackers, who were armed with a machete and a pipe, demanded he hand over his wallet, cell phone and documents, including his national ID card and passport, according to the journalist and his employer, the daily La Prensa. When Garay asked why they wanted his identification, the attackers pushed him into a wall and hit him repeatedly in the face, nearly breaking his jaw, he told CPJ.

"They put a lot of emphasis on the passport, which made me think it wasn't just a regular robbery," Garay said. He said the attackers did not steal anything else from his apartment.

The journalist said that the men dragged him to the building's parking lot, where they continued to beat him and one threatened him with the machete. Garay said the attackers warned him not to say anything about the incident or they would return to "break him in half." Before they left, one told him "I hope this will teach you a lesson."

Garay told CPJ he reported the incident to local police and the local Public Ministry, the government entity responsible for prosecuting crimes.

The Public Ministry in Managua did not answer repeated phone calls from CPJ seeking comment.

Garay has worked as a journalist in Nicaragua for four years, most recently covering politics and national news for La Prensa. He said he has been threatened and harassed, including over his coverage of nationwide protests that started in mid-April 2018 over the government's decision to reform the social security system by increasing contributions and reducing payouts to pensioners. Amid rising violence, the government scrapped the plan. But protesters then demanded that President Daniel Ortega leave office.

Garay reported on Twitter that on May 9, 2018, police officers verbally harassed him and two colleagues while they covered a protest in Managua. Garay told CPJ that on May 20, 2018, he had an encounter with five people whom he said he believes were members of the Sandinista Youth, an organization of Nicaragua's ruling party, in a supermarket near his home. They said they knew he was a reporter and warned he might "wake up to problems" soon, he told CPJ.

CPJ was unable to find contact details for the Sandinista Youth.

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