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Nicaragua: Police raid offices of La Prensa newspaper

image sourceEPA

image captionPolice vehicles were seen outside the newspaper’s offices in the capital, Managua

Police in Nicaragua have raided the offices of the country’s main newspaper, La Prensa, which has been highly critical of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

Photographs on La Prensa’s website show riot police entering the building and boxes of materials being removed.

Journalists said internet access and electricity were cut during the raid.

Police said they were investigating allegations of customs fraud and money laundering by the newspaper’s managers.

La Prensa is owned by the family of Christiana Chamorro, a high-profile politician who was detained two months ago after announcing she would run against President Ortega in November’s elections. Other presidential hopefuls have also been detained.

La Prensa has repeatedly referred to Mr Ortega as a “dictator”.

On Thursday, the paper said it was having to suspend its print edition because authorities had refused to release imports of newsprint.

Pro-government news outlets published images of the newspaper’s warehouses which they said showed it had no reason to halt the print version.

Canal 4 posted on social media: “In the warehouses of La Prensa newspaper there is abundant stationery available so that the company can continue printing its newspaper.”

La Prensa staff insisted that there was not enough paper in the building to print even one edition.

image sourceEPA

image captionPolice took boxes of material away from the offices

image sourceReuters

image captionLa Prensa accused authorities of impounding its supplies of newsprint

Editor-in-chief Eduardo Enríquez told Reuters news agency that staff had been prevented from using their mobile phones during Friday’s raid.

Opposition to Mr Ortega, who is currently serving his fourth term in office, has been growing in recent years.

In 2018, mass anti-government protests swept through the country but were met with a violent police response. Hundreds were killed and thousands injured in the clashes, with protesters on one side, and the security forces and pro-government militia on the other.

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