Journalist Banned From US, Detained In Mexico On The Way To Nicaragua

Above photo: The Star’s (from left to right) sports editor Kadeem Simmonds, international editor Steve Sweeney and web editor Ben Cowles.

Steve Sweeney, the international editor of the British socialist newspaper, was detained in Mexico City on Friday as he traveled to Nicaragua to cover the presidential election being held today. Sweeney is anti-imperialist and a founder of Media Workers for Palestine.

His detention follows a multi-platform social media ban on independent journalists, activists and websites in Nicaragua, as detailed by Ben Norton of The Grayzone. There is also a corporate media disinformation campaign targeting Nicaragua and the current election. Sweeney’s detention must be viewed in this context as an effort to prevent readers in the United Kingdom from having access to factual reporting.

Sweeney released a statement on his detention today. It reads:

At 7pm on Friday I was detained without warning at Mexico City Airport, and quizzed by around 4 different people. I was held in squalid conditions without food or water, in a room with no ventilation. My phone was also confiscated.

I have not been informed at any time why I am being held, nor when nor even if I am going to be released. It is no coincidence that it came just weeks after my ban from the US. I fully believe my detention is political and an attack on press freedom.

I am the only journalist from a British newspaper covering the Nicaraguan elections from the ground. Blocking me from doing so would leave the British press free to regurgitate their standard anti-Nicaragua fare unchallenged.

The US is tightening the screw. The Renacer Act passed this week imposes tough sanctions and a possible trade embargo designed to crush the Nicaraguan people. Fears of a Bolivia-style coup are not unfounded and the US has already said it will not recognise the result.

But the police, the armed forces and most importantly the people remain loyal to Ortega and the Sandinista revolution. Solidarity with all those on the ground is now vital. We must not fall for the structural misinformation being fed through the mainstream press.

I call on the Mexican government to secure my immediate release and passage to Managua. I am also calling on the British government to stand up for democracy and press freedom, and to recognise the results of the Nicaraguan elections.

Here is a statement of solidarity from journalist Ahmed Kaballo: