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TV station attack: Venezuela's "comprehensive assault" on free speech?

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MEXICO CITY – The battle between supporters and critics of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez spilled over onto the grounds of a popular Venezuelan TV station on Monday when pro-Chávez activists invaded the main offices of Globovision and set off tear gas.

The private station, which has often been critical of Chávez, carried footage from the incident (some of the incident can be seen here). The attack was criticized by groups worldwide, including the Committee to Protect Journalists. The event at Globovision occurred after the government shut down 34 radio stations over the weekend, citing regulatory issues. Critics said the closures were to silence critical reporting. Globovision itself has been subject of several investigations.

Last week, Venezuela’s attorney general introduced draft legislation on “media crimes” that could, among other things, mean prison sentences for up to four years for those who provide “false” information that harms the interests of the state.

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