Venezuelan court seizes newspaper office in defamation case


In this file photo taken on December 14, 2018, a woman shows the last printed edition of Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional with its front page reading "El Nacional is a worrior and will keep on fighting" at a newspaper stand in Caracas. - Venezuelan justice on Friday seized the headquarters of the newspaper El Nacional, a critic of the government of Nicolás Maduro, to cover the 13 million dollars that a court ordered it to pay to the number two of chavismo in a defamation lawsuit. - AFP

CARACAS: A Venezuelan court on Friday seized the headquarters of the El Nacional newspaper, after it failed to pay a $13 million defamation award to top socialist party official Diosdado Cabello, both Cabello and the paper's leaders said.

Venezuela's Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) last month issued the award, which stems from a 2015 lawsuit Cabello - a lawmaker and vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela - filed against El Nacional after it reprinted a Spanish newspaper article asserting U.S. officials were investigating Cabello for alleged ties to drug trafficking.

The paper at the time said it could not pay that amount.

Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello looks on as President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a special session of the National Constituent Assembly to deliver his annual state of the nation speech, in Caracas, Venezuela January 14, 2020.Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly President Diosdado Cabello looks on as President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a special session of the National Constituent Assembly to deliver his annual state of the nation speech, in Caracas, Venezuela January 14, 2020.

"This afternoon, the corresponding courts, in response to my lawsuit against El Nacional, have placed signage and notified of the seizure, and have initiated the process of paying the indemnization. We will overcome!" Cabello wrote on his Twitter account.

Cabello, who was sanctioned by the United States in 2018, denies any links to drug trafficking.

Jorge Makriniotis, El Nacional's manager, called the move "a new attack on democracy, freedom of expression, private property."

"With this measure they will not break our critical editorial stance on the government," Makriniotis wrote on Twitter.

- Reuters
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