A motorcyclist rides past a mural of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, left, and revolutionary hero Cesar Augusto Sandino in Managua, Nicaragua, on November 7, 2021. On June 10, 2022, Nicaraguan police raided and closed independent news outlet Trinchera de la Noticia. (AP Photo/Andres Nunes)

Nicaraguan police raid, close independent news outlet Trinchera de la Noticia

Around 3 p.m. on June 10, 2022, the Nicaraguan interior ministry summoned María Alicia Talavera, the director of independent news outlet Trinchera de la Noticia, to a meeting to inform her that the Nicaraguan judiciary had canceled the outlet’s legal status and would be seizing all assets, according to a report by Spanish news agency EFE, which cited Talavera.

Moments later, Nicaraguan National Police officers raided the outlet’s offices in the capital Managua and “aggressively forced” the outlet’s receptionist and accountant to leave, according to EFE and multiple news reports. Later on June 10, Trinchera de la Noticia announced that it was shutting down operations. EFE reported on June 12 that the police still occupied the offices.

The official notice of the closure, which Nicaraguan news website Confidencial published and CPJ reviewed, was issued by the Public Registry of Real Estate, which is under Nicaragua’s judicial branch. It accused Trinchera de la Noticia of committing a “severe infraction” by violating various articles of Nicaragua’s criminal code, commercial code, the General Law of Public Registries, and others. The resolution stated that the outlet “disrupted social peace and refused to provide information within the established time frame or did so incompletely” and ordered the outlet’s owners to pay a fine of 53,748 córdobas (US$1,500).

CPJ called Talavera several times and sent a message through Twitter to the outlet seeking comment. The outlet’s Twitter account responded, saying that Trinchera de la Noticia was not giving any further statements. CPJ emailed the Nicaraguan police and judiciary for comment but did not receive a response.

Trinchera de la Noticia was founded in 1999 by journalist Xavier Reyes Alba and produced a news website and a weekly print tabloid distributed in hotels and embassies in Managua, according to the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Voice of America. That report said the outlet operated on an annual subscription basis and usually covered politics and financial news. After its closure, there is only one subscriber-funded print tabloid–Bolsa de Noticias–left in Nicaragua, according to that report.

CPJ has extensively covered the Nicaraguan government’s ongoing crackdown against the press since a wave of protests in spring 2018, including imprisonments, criminal proceedings, the occupation of news outlets, criminal defamation charges, and physical attacks. One journalist was killed while covering protests in April 2018.