The house of a Venezuelan microblogger was raided by the authorities, after receiving a warning which considered Federico Medina Ravell as suspected of spreading rumours about the health of Hugo Chávez on Twitter.
The team of Sebin (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) officers confiscated several computers from Medina’s home in Valencia on 7 January, according to the local media.
Medina, which is the cousin of AlbertoRavell, an opposition journalist and co-founder of Globovision, is accused of instigating terrorism through social networks.
When Sebin arrived, only Medina’s wife and his two children were at home, who said that they hadn’t be in touch with his father for six months. However, according to Venezuelan newspapers, when one of the computers was checked, Medina’s Twitter account was opened.
Under his Twitter name @LucioQuincioC he stated that Chávez will not return from Havana, where the president went a month ago for an emergency cancer surgery. Since then, the leader has not been seen or heard in public.
Despite the police action, the account remains active and counts with the collaboration of 20 bloggers based in eight cities.
“We disagree with the persecution and raid by the political police, as it restricts the freedom of expression”, one member of the group of blogger told New Europe. The source added that Chávez’s disease “should not be state secret in any country around the world.”
The raid took place in the middle of the country’s political sensitivity and four days before a scheduled swearing-in ceremony which seems likely to be postponed due to Chávez’s health.
The Twitter account @estebangerbasi has called for a nationwide civic strike on 10 January if the inauguration fails to take place.
According to an official bulletin published last week, the president was suffering from complications brought on by a severe lung infection after surgery. The opposition is demanding for more details and online rumours say that he may be in coma.
“The real truth of the situation regarding the health of the president must be told given that it is a national problem because this deals with the leader of the country,” opposition spokesman Aveledo said.