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Rights groups condemn crackdown on Venezuela TV

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm •  Published: January 12, 2013

"Is debate not allowed?" the organization said in a statement on Friday. "These proceedings are disproportionate and absurd."

Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director for Human Rights Watch, said "there is nothing in the content of Globovision's broadcasts that could remotely be described as incitement or a threat to public order."

Venezuela's opposition has similarly called for the government to stop such measures against critical news media.

In June, Globovision paid a fine of more than $2 million imposed by regulators in another investigation.

Human Rights Watch also criticized a Jan. 6 raid by Venezuelan intelligence agents on the home of a blogger suspected of posting messages on Twitter questioning the information provided by the government about Chavez's condition.

The blogger, Federico Medina Ravell, is a cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a former news director of Globovision.

Isabel Grisanti, a lawyer who is a friend of Medina's family, said the agents came to the home in the city of Valencia with a court order to search the house in an investigation relating to weapons possession and alleged computer-related crimes.

Grisanti said she didn't know why the raid was carried out, but Venezuelan media have reported that the authorities were going after people posting Twitter messages about Chavez's condition, which the government describes as delicate while the president fights a severe respiratory infection.

Medina wasn't home at the time. The agents found no weapons in the home but did seize two computers, Grisanti said.