Nicaraguan journalist Victor Ticay was convicted on charges of undermining national integrity and disseminating false news over his coverage of an Easter procession. (Photo: Alertas de Prensa Nicaragua)

Nicaraguan journalist Victor Ticay convicted on treason, false news charges

Guatemala City, June 12, 2023—Nicaraguan authorities should release journalist Victor Ticay from prison and ensure members of the press do not face criminal penalties for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday.

On Friday, June 9, a judge in the capital city of Managua convicted Ticay, a correspondent for the privately owned TV station Canal 10, on charges of undermining national integrity and disseminating false news and transferred him to the Jorge Navarro Prison, known as “La Modelo.” The journalist was denied the right to a private defense attorney and was instead assigned a public defender. 

The national integrity offense, a type of treason, is punishable by up to six years in prison, and false news, which is considered a form of cybercrime, can carry a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years. CPJ was unable to determine when Ticay will be sentenced.

Police arrested Ticay on April 6 after he recorded an Easter celebration in the town of Nandaime and posted it on La Portada, a Facebook news page that he manages. Public Catholic celebrations are banned by the Nicaraguan government.

“It is shocking how far Nicaraguan officials are willing to go to silence a journalist just because he covered a public event on Facebook,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna, in New York. “Victor Ticay has committed no crime, and Nicaraguan authorities should end these absurd criminal proceedings against him, release him immediately, and stop criminalizing journalism.”

During the hearing on Wednesday, June 7, the prosecutor’s office called at least two police officers and several government supporters as witnesses, who told the judge that the journalist’s videos “posed a threat to the peace and stability of Nicaraguan families,” according to a report by news website Despacho 505.  

CPJ’s email to the Nicaraguan judiciary for comment did not immediately receive a response.