Los Angeles Times

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Venezuelan prosecutors say 2 spread false information, impugned banks via Twitter
Los Angeles Times

Venezuelan authorities on Monday accused two people of spreading false rumors about the country’s banking system using Twitter.

Luis Enrique Acosta and Carmen Cecilia Nares are suspected of violating a provision in the country’s banking laws prohibiting the dissemination of « false information, » the attorney general’s office said in a statement. They were detained last week for posting online messages « against the Venezuelan financial system, » the statement said, and were later arraigned and released by a court pending legal proceedings.

The two were detained Thursday in southeastern Ciudad Bolivar. They were ordered to appear in court every 15 days and barred from posting similar online messages, the statement said. It said they could receive from nine to 11 years in prison if convicted.

The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders condemned the case, calling it part of a government strategy to clamp down on the Internet. « The authorities are now targeting ordinary Internet users whose only crime is to express views on Twitter, » the Paris-based organization said in a statement.

Federal Police Chief Wilmer Flores said last week that the authorities are also investigating 15 other people for allegedly impugning the banking system on Twitter.