Catholic clergy denounce surveillance and beatings amid repression in Nicaragua

Police in Nicaragua arrest and imprison another Catholic priest

Police in Nicaragua arrest and imprison another Catholic priest

Nicaraguan police detained another Catholic priest critical of the government, they told Reuters two sources close to the Church, which makes the priest the latest target of an increasingly deep repression against the clergy in the Central American country.

Fernando Zamara, a priest who also performs administrative duties in the northern diocese of Siuna, was arrested Sunday in the capital Managua after attending a mass presided over by the country’s top Catholic leader, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, according to the sources.

It was not immediately clear what charges Zamora faces. Neither the government nor the police responded to Reuters to a request for comment when asked about the detention.

For the past five years, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been in the government’s crosshairs, with priests and nuns arrested or expelled from the country. The reprisals include an extended investigation against clergy for money laundering, which led to the freezing of all accounts in the name of the flock.

In the last year, the repression against the church has intensified, a difficult period in which priests have denounced espionage by the government and even beatings.

President Daniel Ortega has accused Catholic leaders of criminal activities, including alleged attempts to overthrow his government.

Zamora’s imprisonment joins that of four other priests, including Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who in February was found guilty and sentenced without trial to 26 years in prison on treason charges and was briefly released last week while church representatives they unsuccessfully tried to negotiate the terms of his release.

The Confidencial news outlet also reported Monday that another Nicaraguan Catholic priest, Juan Carlos Sánchez, was denied entry into the country after traveling to Bolivia and the United States. This year, at least seven priests have been expelled, six have fled the country, while three others have been denied re-entry.

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