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Customs officials block import of newsprint supplies

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, February 4, 2011 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today voiced anger at a move by Customs officials in Nicaragua to block the importation of supplies for newspaper production, an action taken by them in anger over press exposure of corruption.

In yesterday's edition, the newspaper "El Nuevo Diario" reported that the order blocking the entry of newsprint came from the Finance and Public Credit Ministry and its two departments, the Customs Office (DGA) and the Revenue Office (DGI). The paper called the action "political vengeance", as a clear reprisal for a series of published investigations into alleged wrongdoing and nepotism in the DGI's current administration.

IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín, president of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper "Siglo 21", said, "To use public office to punish a news media outlet for its critical and independent editorial stance must be regarded as an act of prior censorship contrary to law and the Constitution."

The newspaper said that it has been facing constant obstacles set by the tax authorities, which range from causing documents to go astray to a suspicious delay in granting import permits and the handing over of supplies.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the "San Antonio Express-News", Texas, said that "with these outrages the Nicaraguan government is continuing to violate international treaties on freedom of expression, which condemn the arbitrary use of government actions to impede media production and the flow of information."

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