Guatemala City, May 9, 2023—Nicaraguan authorities should drop all criminal charges against journalist Hazel Zamora and end their legal harassment of the press, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
On May 5, police arrested Zamora while she traveled on a bus with her two children in the capital city of Managua, according to multiple news reports. Later that day, police raided Zamora’s house in the eastern coastal city of Bluefields and confiscated her computer, according to those reports and a person familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns.
Authorities charged Zamora with spreading false news and released her around midnight, according to those sources. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.
“With the recent detentions of multiple journalists, the Nicaraguan government is showing once again that it has zero respect for the freedom of the press,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna, in New York. “Authorities must halt their absurd campaign to threaten the press and immediately drop any criminal case against journalist Hazel Zamora.”
On May 6, authorities transported Zamora to Bluefields, where they released her on the condition that she report to the police daily.
Zamora has worked as a journalist for 16 years, covering the Caribbean coastal region for privately owned TV broadcaster Canal 10 and posting news about the region on her Facebook page Doce Noticias including social issues, crime, and the cost of living, according to a person familiar with her case.
Previously, on May 3, authorities also arrested and freelance journalist William Aragon and charged him with spreading false news; he is also required to report to the police daily.
CPJ’s email to the Nicaraguan national police did not immediately receive a response.