Jailed for Reporting News of a Religious Procession

Journalist Victor Ticay from the city of Nandaime, Nicaragua. Photo from social networks

Demanding freedom for journalist Victor Ticay, and a call to the international press to condemn the Ortega dictatorship

By Carlos F. Chamorro (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – In the early morning of June 9, in a simulated trial in the courtrooms of Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship, journalist Victor Ticay, a Channel 10 news correspondent from the municipality of Nandaime, was declared guilty of the supposed crimes of “conspiring to undermine the national sovereignty” and “propagation of false news.”

Ticay was detained on April 6 for giving news coverage to the traditional religious procession known as Señor de La Reseña, that was held in Nandaime on Holy Wednesday, during the Easter Week festivities. The images of the procession, showing pilgrims congregating for the procession and later fleeing the police siege, were transmitted over Facebook Live in his personal account called La Portada (“the front page”) in a video that lasted for 25 minutes.

However, according to the dictatorship’s police, prosecutors, and judges, those images of a religious procession comprised a grave crime against the national sovereignty. Worse yet, broadcasting them on a social network also constituted the crime of disseminating false news with the objective of provoking “anxiety and the destabilization of the country.”

The day after Victor Ticay posted the images of the procession, the police came to his house, seized his cellphone, and abducted him. The journalist was locked up for over two months in Managua’s District III police station without being formally charged, right up until the moment he was declared guilty of a fabricated crime in a trial held secretly. Now he’s imprisoned in the La Modelo penitentiary, waiting for the judge’s sentence, which could declare eight to thirteen years of jail time.

This latest crime against press freedom in Nicaragua reveals the degradation of a dictatorship that continues criminalizing the exercise of journalism with the aim of instilling fear, imposing silence, and censorship. Nonetheless, by demonstrating the extreme political weakness of prohibiting the circulation of news regarding a religious procession, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are alienating their own political base. Every day, more citizens from all social and economic sectors silently join the demand for political change; for democratization, justice, and full freedom of the press and of expression.

Ortega and Murillo are ever more alone, clinging to their spirit of vengeance against their political prisoners, whose freedom of conscience they were unable to strip away in jail, and who they’re now punishing further by confiscating their assets and properties. By perpetrating this crime against press freedom which again reveals them to the world as a totalitarian dictatorship, they’re also recognizing that they’ve never been able to silence the independent press that continues investigating and speaking the truth from exile. The guilty verdict against journalist Victor Ticay is a call to the international press to continue reporting about Nicaragua, and to unite in a worldwide condemnation of the dictatorship, until Nicaragua fully recovers its freedom.  

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