Investigative Reporters Targeted in Venezuelan Government Probe

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela is targeting a group of investigative journalists as part of a wide-ranging corruption probe into billions of dollars of missing oil revenue.

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Public Prosecutor Tarek William Saab accused former Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami, the most powerful target in the investigation, of hiring reporters to write damning stories about rivals.

Read More: Venezuela Arrests Oil, Gas PDVSA Officials on Graft Probe

Venezuelan reporters including Ewald Scharfenberg and Roberto Deniz were part of the group, Saab said. Both work for independent news outlet Armando Info, and are now in exile. Saab accused five other journalists.

“This is a maneuver to discredit Armando Info and silence an independent outlet that has revealed the regime’s biggest corruption scandals,” Sharfenberg said, in a written response to questions.

Armando Info has cast light on close Nicolás Maduro ally and Colombian businessman, Alex Saab, who secured deals to supply the government’s flagship nationwide food program, known as Clap. Over time, his role developed from commercial dealer for the Maduro government into head of the country’s international investment center.

A PBS-Frontline documentary on Armando Info’s coverage of Saab is scheduled to be released next week.

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