JANUARY 14, 2005
Posted: February 2, 2005

Daniel Ortiz Millán, "En Positivo"

Ortiz, a radio host with the Geomar 105.1 FM station in the city of Punta de Mata, in the eastern state of Monagas, was attacked by supporters of the local mayor after he discussed an electoral dispute on the air. He also received threats from unknown callers.

Ortiz told CPJ that a crowd of people supporting Mayor Àngel Centeno blocked him from entering the station around 7 a.m. They said they wouldn't allow him to do his radio program because he was broadcasting information that was disrupting public order. They pushed him and threw paint at him, he said.

He said the attackers threatened to take him to Plaza Bolívar, about four blocks from the station, and subject him to what they called "people's revolutionary justice." Ortiz said police came, cordoned off the area, and took him to a police station.

The day before the attack, Ortiz discussed on the air local news reports that Venezuela's Electoral National Council (CNE) had given Centeno a deadline to present evidence of his party's alliance with the ruling Movimiento Quinta República (MVR) party. Centeno, a leader of a small evangelical party who ran as the candidate of a pro-government coalition, narrowly defeated an opposition candidate in the October 2004 regional elections. The CNE is considering an appeal by Centeno's rival, who claims that Centeno shouldn't have received the votes cast for the MVR.

Ortiz hosted the opinion program "En Positivo" (In Positive), which aired from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Monday through Friday and discussed the news covered in national and local papers each day. He said his guests included politicians, priests, and community leaders in Punta de Mata. He produced the show on a time slot leased from the station.

At the request of the station's director, Ortiz said, he took his program off the air temporarily. Since the attack, he said, he has received threatening text messages on his cell phone, and unidentified callers have left threatening telephone messages at the station.

Later the day of the attack, Ortiz filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in the city of Maturín, the state capital, and gave a statement to the police. He said he had identified two of his attackers by name.

JANUARY 31, 2005
Posted: February 4, 2005

Patricia Poleo, El Nuevo País

The Attorney General's Office announced that Poleo, a columnist and director of the Caracas daily El Nuevo País, would be prosecuted on charges of illegally obtaining and disclosing sealed case documents and violating anticorruption legislation. Poleo was accused of publicizing confidential information in the investigation into the November 2004 murder of prosecutor Danilo Anderson. The leak has been attributed to police officers.

Acting on a court order, police and prosecutors raided Poleo's home on January 28, searched through computer diskettes, and took photocopies of documents that prosecutors allege were leaked. Poleo has said that prosecutors are hiding information that could embarrass the government, and she has vowed she will not disclose her sources.

Poleo is a high-profile journalist who has supported the opposition in her work. El Nuevo País is owned by her father, journalist Rafael Poleo. In December 2004 and January 2005, she reported that case documents linked Anderson to an extortion ring that included several lawyers and prosecutors.

Anderson was in charge of investigating the alleged involvement of several businessmen, politicians, and former government officials in the April 2002 coup that briefly deposed President Hugo Chávez Frías. He was blown up while driving his car in Caracas in November 18, 2004, in what some government officials termed a "terrorist act." The police have detained three men suspected of carrying out the murder, but two other suspects are fugitives. Prosecutors continue looking for those who planned Anderson's murder. In the wake of Anderson's assassination, some government supporters called for the enactment of "antiterrorism" legislation.

During December 2004 and January 2005, the local press reported statements by a Caracas councilman who said that the police found a large amount of money during a search of Anderson's apartment. The councilman, Carlos Herrera, alleged Anderson was linked to an extortion ring of lawyers and prosecutors that sought money in exchange for halting investigations.

But Attorney General Isaías Rodríguez has said prosecutors are focusing on three theories that point to retaliation against Anderson for his prosecutorial work. Rodríguez has blamed the press for focusing on the extortion allegations with the intent of deflecting attention away from those responsible for the murder of Anderson.

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