Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Commission, CONATEL, announced plans on Wednesday to begin sanctioning procedures against CNN en Español for its “direct aggression against the Venezuelan people and state.”
The announcement was made in response to a CNN en Español report released last week suggesting that the Bolivarian government “may have given passports to people with ties to terrorism.” More specifically, the report alleges that Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami is linked to 173 people from the Middle East, including some connected to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
“As part of its traditional interventionist and imperialist policy, this US agency abrogates extraterritorial powers that blatantly violate basic principles of international law,” CONATEL wrote in a statement.
“It [CNN en Español] has the ignoble and Machiavellian purpose of undermining the image of the National Executive Branch and, therefore, institutionality, governance, and stability of the country, as well as the Bolivarian Revolution, a socio-political project contrary to its interests of domination.”
CONATEL’s statement, which points out that CNN en Español’s allegations are based on unsubstantiated evidence, urges journalists around the world to launch an independent investigation of the report.
The statement also questions the validity of government “whistleblower” Misael Lopez’s claims that the government was “scheming” to sell passports and visas for thousands of dollars. Most of CNN en Español’s report is based on alleged testimony by Lopez, a former secretary of the Venezuelan embassy in Iraq who has strong connections with Venezuela’s U.S.-backed opposition.
Lopez is a close friend and business partner of Ana Argotti, a lawyer who defends violent right-wing activists facing charges for the opposition’s “La Salida” campaign. This was the campaign that left 43 people dead and over 800 injured from street blockades known as “guarimbas.”
“Lopez is an agent infiltrated by the Venezuelan opposition based in the United States,” Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez confirmed on Wednesday, AVN reports.
The Bolivarian Revolution’s battle against fake news has intensified within the last few days.
On Monday, the U.S. placed El Aissami on a sanctions list reserved for “drug kingpins,” without offering any evidence or issuing any criminal charges. The U.S. government based their decision on CNN en Español’s report as well as other unsubstantiated claims parroted by mainstream media outlets.
Last week, the Miami Herald published a story claiming that Venezuelans are killing and eating flamingos amidst food shortages, citing unsubstantiated claims made by a biology student.