Leading journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro has fled Nicaragua amid a series of escalating attacks against his newsroom by the regime of President Daniel Ortega.
Chamorro’s outlet, Confidencial, was raided by police on Dec. 13 and its offices in Managua have been shuttered by authorities ever since. Chamorro, who is also a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has pledged to continue hosting his signature weekly newscast, Esta Semana, from exile in Costa Rica.
“We are well, we are safe, and above all, we have not missed a single day of work,” Chamorro wrote in an email to ICIJ shortly after leaving Nicaragua.
Chamorro has been a persistent voice against human rights and press freedom violations by Ortega’s autocratic regime, which has been condemned by the United Nations, sanctioned by the United States, and is under threat of suspension from the Organization of American States.
Just days ago, Confidencial participated in a cross-border investigation that examined how corruption-tainted oil dollars from Venezuela were used to prop up political allies of Venezuela’s repressive government in Central America and the Caribbean.
Last August, ICIJ wrote about how Confidencial’s reporting on human rights abuses by Ortega’s government had helped spur greater independence in Nicaragua’s media, which for years had been reluctant to criticize the regime.
The story detailed how Confidencial cameramen Ricardo Salgado filmed members of a pro-government militia assaulting a Catholic bishop and priests – until the fighters started beating Salgado himself and stole his videocamera. Nonetheless, Confidencial aired a detailed report on the assault that included footage of the episode filmed by other outlets.
Since then, the Nicaraguan government’s repression has grown even more severe.
In December, in addition to searching Confidencial’s offices, police raided another outlet, 100% Noticias, and arrested two of its leaders on charges of terrorism and incitement. Both journalists, owner and director Miguel Mora and news director Lucia Pineda, remain in government custody.
In a television interview conducted shortly after he left Nicaragua, Chamorro said that he had fled to Costa Rica so that he could continue reporting safely on the crisis unfolding in Nicaragua.
“I am here so that they don’t silence me,” Chamorro said.