Venezuelan media group shuts down after owner`s arrest

The Venezuelan media group 6to Poder announced that it was suspending its activities due to financial problems caused by the freezing of its bank accounts after the arrest several days ago of owner and publisher Leocenis Garcia.

Last Updated: Aug 06, 2013, 12:35 PM IST

Caracas: The Venezuelan media group 6to Poder announced that it was suspending its activities due to financial problems caused by the freezing of its bank accounts after the arrest several days ago of owner and publisher Leocenis Garcia.

"Today, a dark chapter in the history of freedom of the press and of information is being written in Venezuela. With much regret, I have to report ... the cessation of all operations of the 6to Poder group," director Alberto Rodriguez told a press conference Monday.

Rodriguez accused the Venezuelan government of bankrupting the group "in a formal way" by freezing its bank accounts and that of Garcia, after he was arrested July 30 and accused of money laundering a few days later.

"Today, we do not have the ability to be able to meet the payroll ... It`s impossible for us to print the newspaper, impossible to pay the (electricity) and water," Rodriguez said.

He went on to say that there are "more than 100 workers" who are now without jobs due to the closure of the group.

The cessation of the group`s operations shows that the situation of press freedom in Venezuela is "critical", Rodriguez said.

The group consists of the weekly 6to Poder, business daily El Comercio, the 6to Poder Web page, the magazine Usex, the survey firm 6to Poder Datos and 6to Poder radio.

Prosecutors ordered the freezing of the group`s and Garcia`s bank accounts "after not being able to justify the large amounts of money handled in their accounts".

Garcia has had a number of run-ins with the government in recent years.

Two years ago, he was arrested on the order of late president Hugo Chavez and accused of "public incitement of hate" after the publication of a controversial photomontage in 6to Poder showing the faces of senior officials and judges on the bodies of showgirls.

IANS