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Venezuelan authorities seek to freeze assets of newspaper’s executive editor

Venezuela's attorney general is seeking to freeze the assets of the daily El Nacional's executive editor, reported the paper on Sunday.

Miguel Henrique Otero. Photo: El Nacional.

Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz sought the measure following a lawsuit against the newspaper's editor, Miguel Henrique Otero, on behalf of the former mayor of Caracas, Alfredo Peña, who claims Otero owes him $3.5 million.

"The results of a lawsuit demanding payment [in Venezuelan bolivares] by Miguel Henrique Otero to Alfredo Peña were received," said Ortega Díaz according to El Nacional. “The facts could be criminal in nature, since we do not know how the public official obtained that amount of money, nor do we know why the defendant owed that amount."  

Peña is also being investigated for alleged embezzlement. Venezuelan authorities issued an arrest warrant for him last month. 

On Sunday on El Nacional's website, Otero called the investigation “a new affront on freedom of expression," although he added that authorities had not officially notified him of any legal action against him.

Ortega made the announcement on his Twitter account. In Spanish, she states the country's Public Ministry asked for the freezing of Otero's bank accounts and prohibition of the transfer of his assets:

Tinedo Guía, the director of Venezuela's National College of Journalists, called the announcement "serious" and added he was concerned of the possibility that the government is "utilizing the courts and the public ministry as a bypass (or means) to attack opposition media," reported the Associated Press.


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