Nicaraguan police ‘beat’ journalists protesting at office raid

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Nicaraguan police 'beat' journalists protesting at office raid

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Prominent journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, second right, was among those driven away by police during the protest

Nicaraguan police are reported to have kicked and beaten several journalists who were protesting against raids on their offices.

The journalists were outside a police station in the capital Managua, complaining that raids on the offices of a news website were illegal.

Witnesses said riot police armed with batons dispersed them with force.

Nicaragua has been rocked by months of protests against President Daniel Ortega.

The anti-government protests were declared illegal by Mr Ortega in September following five months of often violent clashes in which hundreds of people were killed. He accuses protesters of planning a coup against his Sandinista party government.

Read more about Nicaragua's crisis:

  • The people caught in the middle
  • 'Ortega's Nicaragua crisis evokes memories of past''
  • Downward spiral: Nicaragua's crisis

In Saturday's confrontation, a witness quoted by Reuters said at least seven journalists from international and national media were grabbed and kicked by police.

They included Carlos Fernando Chamorro, who runs the news website Confidencial. He accused the police of acting without any justification.

Mr Chamorro is the son of former Nicaraguan President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro who led an anti-Sandinista coalition in 1990 to defeat Mr Ortega in elections.

  • Are journalists increasingly under attack?

Police called the journalists "coup plotters" and chased them, threatening to confiscate their equipment, witnesses said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Riot police chased the reporters down the street

"Three officers beat me. They kicked me in the leg trying to knock me down," said Néstor Arce, a journalist at Confidencial.

The protest came days after police raided and ransacked the offices of Confidencial, seizing computers.

At the time, Mr Chamorro accused the police of behaving like criminals. He said the website would continue to denounce "the abuses of the regime".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The offices of Confidencial in Managua were ransacked in Thursday's police raid

Nicaraguan police have so far not commented on Saturday's alleged assault on the journalists.

  • Daniel Ortega: From revolutionary leader to opposition hate figure
  • Read the UN report on alleged human rights abuses in Nicaragua

Demonstrators in the Central American country first rallied against planned changes to the country's social security system, but the protests soon escalated to include the demand for President Ortega to resign.

Mr Ortega, who has been in power since 2007, accuses the demonstrators of planning to overthrow his democratically-elected government and of inciting violence.

Local human rights groups as well as the United Nations Office for Human Rights have documented alleged human rights violations which range from illegal detention to torture.

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