Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bolivia: Police storm Bolivian TV station critical of government


Source: National Press Association 

(ANP/IFEX) - On 20 November 2012, government officials and police officers entered the premises of TV station 33 SBT, in Cochabamba, and seized its transmission equipment because the station allegedly violated technical regulations. The station is known for its criticism of the ruling Movement for Socialism (Movimiento al Socialismo, MAS) party.

During the raid carried out by officials from the Transport and Telecommunications Authority (Autoridad de Transporte y Telecomunicaciones, ATT), which took place on 20 November, the station's owners resisted the officers and were violently subdued by riot police.

A security camera video shows the director of the "Aló Marianela" programme, Marianela Montenegro, resisting the intervention and being thrown to the floor while two officers tried to immobilise her and another stepped on her ankle.

According to Montenegro, the ATT took an antenna, a computer and two cameras, in response to an alleged licence violation, even though the station actually broadcasts using fibre optics, she explained.

The journalist said she believes the raid was in response to her critical comments. She added that she will be filing a lawsuit against the ATT, police, and the prosecutor responsible for the case for the unjust acts against her and the station's property.

ATT did not comment/issue an official statement on the raid.

The National Press Association (Asociación Nacional de la Prensa, ANP) said that any action intended to silence a media outlet, impacts on constitutional principles, freedom of expression and citizens' freedoms. The ANP calls for due process and a legal resolution in the case of such matters, in place of such violent measures.