Venezuela bans Spanish-language CNN for 'fake' Iraq report

Venezuela bans Spanish-language CNN for 'fake' Iraq report
Venezuelan authorities banned CNN's Spanish-speaking channel on Wednesday, after releasing what it says was a false report about the sale of passports at its embassy in Baghdad.
2 min read
16 February, 2017
CNN's Spanish-language channel was banned in Venezuela [Getty]

Venezuela pulled CNN's Spanish-language television channel off the air on Wednesday, accusing it of spreading "propaganda" about an alleged visa racket at the country's embassy in Iraq.

The state National Telecommunications Commission ordered "the immediate suspension of broadcasts by the news channel CNN in Spanish" in Venezuela, a government statement said.

President Nicolas Maduro had earlier said he wanted the US-based news channel "out" of the country, where state media dominate.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez told reporters the government had "ordered the relevant authorities to take action" against the channel.

Shortly after she spoke, the government made its announcement and the channel disappeared from the air, AFP reporters in Caracas said.

She branded one of the channel's sources in the report, embassy employee Misael Lopez, a "delinquent".

 Iraq visa claims

On 6 February, CNN en Espanol broadcast a report alleging that Venezuelan passports and visas had been sold at the Baghdad embassy to Arabs who the channel said may have been linked to terrorism.

The report named Maduro's new hard-line Vice-president Tareck El Aissami as one of those behind the racket.

Hard-line former interior minister El Aissami, 42, is next in line to Maduro and would take over if the opposition succeeded in its bid to oust the leader in a vote.

Rodriguez said the CNN report was "based absolutely on falsehoods".

The channel "has launched an operation of psychological warfare, a war propaganda operation," she claimed.

Aissami is a descendent of Syrian-Lebanese parents.