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Venezuela accuses CNN of linking Chavez to Al-Qaeda
David Edwards
Published: Tuesday May 29, 2007
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Venezuela said Monday it was filing charges against US cable network CNN for linking President Hugo Chavez to Al-Qaeda, and against a Venezuelan TV network for encouraging Chavez's assassination.

The move comes one day after popular TV network RCTV went off the air after the Chavez government yanked its broadcast license.

Information Minister William Lara presented at a press conference what he said was CNN footage displaying pictures of Chavez juxtaposed with those of an Al-Qaeda leader.

CNN also aired a story about the Venezuelan protests, but used images taken in Mexico of an unrelated story, Lara said.

"CNN broadcast a lie which linked President Chavez to violence and murder," Lara said.

CNN issued a statement late Monday in which they "strongly deny" being "engaged in a campaign to discredit or attack Venezuela."

The news network acknowledged a video mix-up, and "aired a detailed correction and expressed regret for the involuntary error."

Regarding the Al-Qaeda leader, the networks that "unrelated news stories can be juxtaposed in a given program segment just as a newspaper page or a news web site may have unconnected stories adjacent to each other."

The Venezuelan government also filed charges against local network Globovision for what they said was indirectly encouraging Chavez's murder by airing footage of the 1981 assassination attempt on the late pope John Paul II.

"In my view, this television network, in this specific part of its programming, committed the offense of incitement to assassination, against the Venezuelan head of state," Lara said.

The charges comes amid protests against Chavez's shutdown of RCTV, a privately-owned broadcaster of popular comedy and drama shows that was boldly critical of Chavez.

After 54 years on the air, RCTV went black at midnight Sunday after the government refused to renew its license. It was promptly replaced by TVes, a state-backed "socialist" station which began broadcasting cultural shows.

On Monday several people were injured as police in Caracas fired rubber bullets and tear gas to put down a demonstration against the RCTV shutdown.

(with wire reports)

The following video clips are from Reuters and ABC's Good Morning America. Both clips were released on May 29.