Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Friday blasted Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro for revoking the press credentials of CNN’s reporters in Venezuela, calling it an “assault on press freedom.”
“We must assume that Nicolás Maduro is kicking out CNN, CNN en Español, and other foreign journalists as a precursor to even more violent and deadly tactics against innocent Venezuelans. This press assault is a worrying sign that Maduro intends to dig in and step up the violence with the false belief that the world will never find out because he’s kicking out journalists,” Rubio said in a statement late Friday.
“This isn’t simply an assault against press freedom. It now poses an even graver danger to Venezuelan demonstrators who will now have fewer news outlets to tell the story of what’s happening there to the rest of the world.
“We cannot allow this to have a chilling effect on press coverage of what’s going on in Venezuela.”
CNN reported that the Venezuelan government had revoked or denied press credentials for seven of its journalists in the country. In doing so, Maduro made good on a threat from Thursday, when he accused CNN of perpetrating “war propaganda” in its coverage of the ongoing protests in the country. Maduro called the journalists “fascists.”
CNN en Español, which has continued to broadcast in Venezuela, said it was reporting “both sides” of the protests despite a general lack of access to government officials.
“CNN has reported both sides of the tense situation in Venezuela, even with very limited access to government officials,” CNN en Español said in a statement.
“We hope the government will reconsider its decision. Meanwhile, we will continue reporting on Venezuela in the fair, accurate and balanced manner we are known for.”
Local and state television networks have broadcast almost no coverage of opposition-led press conferences and news, which has left Venezuelans turning to CNN Español for television coverage.
A Colombia-based network, NTN24, was taken off the air in Venezuela last week after providing live coverage of the protests. Some social networks, including Twitter, have also been restricted in some cases. These acts drew criticism from the organisation Reporters Without Borders, which called them “arbitrary acts of censorship.”
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