The journalist, whose “wrongdoing” was to broadcast a religious procession the regime had banned, was found guilty of two fabricated crimes.
HAVANA TIMES – Journalist Victor Ticay was sentenced to eight years in jail for the bogus crimes of “spreading false news” and “treason and conspiracy to undermine the national integrity.” The sentence was confirmed on August 17 by the Nicaragua Nunca Mas Human Rights Collective.
Ticay was detained on April 6, 2023, after giving news coverage to the traditional religious procession known as Señor de La Reseña in the Nicaraguan town of Nandaime. The event, which was held during the Catholic Church’s Holy Week festivities, took place despite a government prohibition on public processions. The journalist transmitted images of the procession on his personal Facebook Live account. The next day, the police came to his house, impounded his cellphone, and took him from Granada to Managua.
“The Nicaragua Nunca Mas Human Rights Collective repudiates the 8-year prison sentence dictated against journalist Victor Ticay for the supposed crimes of treason and spreading false news,” the Collective denounced.
The journalist was the Nandaime (Granada) news correspondent for Channel 10, Nicaragua’s most-watched television station. He also directed the Facebook page La Portada [“The Front Page”]. According to the Human Rights Collective, the Ortega courts sentenced Ticay to five years for supposedly “undermining the national integrity”, and an additional three years for crimes covered under the dictatorship’s Cybercrimes Law, popularly known as the Gag Law.
“These sentences and detentions are arbitrary and unconstitutional, and form part of a strategy of repression the Ortega-Murillo regime uses to silence journalists and the media and to instill terror in the population, which is kept under siege, with their rights violated and their freedom of expression blocked,” the organization alerted.
Victor Tikay’s family has refrained from interviews or public comments for fear of the reprisals the journalist could receive. Nonetheless, other journalists report that Ticay was accustomed to giving coverage to this religious activity.
Close family members told the newspaper La Prensa that Ticay’s parents are elderly – 73 and 83 years old respectively – and have fallen ill since he was arrested. “They’re suffering from a very deep depression. The one worst hit is his Dad,” they said.
Tried without defense
Lawyers from the Nicaragua Nunca Mas Human Rights Collective had already denounced that the Nicaraguan journalist faced a kangaroo court, where he was given no right to defend himself. The guilty verdict was read in the early morning hours of June 9, 2023, but up until now, it wasn’t known how many years he’d be sentenced to.
“They didn’t even respect the minimum due process guarantees, nor have they respected the procedures established in the Criminal Procedures Code or the Criminal Code,” declared Attorney Braulio Abarca.
The lawyer also pointed out that this case is “a clear message to all the people working in independent media” in Nicaragua, since it “generates a hostile environment against the men and women of the press.”
Ticay has been held in the penitentiary known as La Modelo, a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Managua, since June 9, 2023, when he was declared guilty.
The journalist is one of 21 Nicaraguans who were detained last April, during Easter Week, only a few days before the fifth anniversary of the 2018 April Rebellion. Three of them were released the next day, and the rest remain incarcerated.
Among those being held are Olesia Auxiliadora Muñoz, who had already been a political prisoner in 2019, and student leader Jasson Noel Salazar, who was declared guilty of the same crimes as Ticay on August 9th.
With information from EFE.