CNN en Espanol went dark Wednesday on most TV screens in Venezuela after the government blocked CNN’s Spanish-language channel. The New York Times reports that the move came about a week after the network reported on an investigation accusing Venezuela’s second-in-command of being involved in passport fraud.
“In the program, which was broadcast on Feb. 6 and Feb. 8, CNN said it had obtained an intelligence document, during a yearlong investigation, that linked Vice President Tareck El Aissami and others to more than 150 Venezuelan passports and identification papers that were issued to people in the Middle East,” The Times reports. “CNN did not say where the intelligence document originated.”
The article adds: “The report came days before the Trump administration froze Mr. El Aissami’s American assets and forbid United States companies from doing business with him over accusations that he had been involved in narcotics trafficking. Mr. El Aissami, 42, has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.”
The Times also notes: “The CNN report, which described a passport-for-cash racket run out of the Venezuelan Embassy in Baghdad, appeared to have little overlap with the accusations that led to the sanctions, but one came after the other in a one-two punch that left Venezuela’s government reeling.”
Soon after the government told reporters it was shutting down CNN en Espanol, the channel disappeared from most of the country’s TV screens Wednesday afternoon. CNN’s English-language channel remained in operation, the report notes.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro later appeared on state television, accusing CNN and U.S. officials of plotting to turn President Trump against him.
The Times quotes Maduro addressing Trump directly, saying: “CNN and the State Department are imposing on you a wrongheaded policy toward Venezuela. They are promoting a general and massive intervention, and aggression against Venezuela.”