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Venezuela: Home of Twitter User Raided

Categories: Advocacy, Free Expression, Harassment, Legal Threats, Surveillance, Threatened Voices, Venezuela

The home of Twitter user Federico Medina Ravell, who's allegedly behind the account @LucioQuincioC [1], was raided [2] on Sunday, January 6, by Venezuelan intelligence officers. The micro-blogger, a cousin of a prominent opposition journalist, is suspected of spreading rumors about the health of Mr Hugo Chávez. The Venezuelan president didn't appear in public since he flew to Havana, Cuba, for cancer surgery early on December, fueling speculations about whether he will be able to attend the swearing-in ceremony of his new term scheduled for 10 January 2013.

According to Noticias 24 [3], Medina, who was not present at his home during the raid, is accused of “instigating terrorism through social networking sites.” The account @LucioQuincioC [1] remains active and has posted claims that Chávez will not return from Cuba. News of post-surgery complications have fueled rumors on social networks about the state of Mr Chavez's health. Something that commentators on pro-government media in Venezuela have interpreted as an “information war”.

“This is an information war. All through the Bolivarian revolution you have seen this sustained information war. Twitter and the social networks are just extensions of this war,” comments a journalist on Cubadebate [4], a pro-Chavez website.