Twitter user alleged to be behind Chavez rumours has home raided
The Guardian in Caracas
Venezuelan intelligence officers have raided the home of a Twitter user suspected of spreading rumours about the health of President Hugo Chavez.
The alleged microblogger, Federico Medina Ravell, is the cousin of a prominent opposition figure, prompting concerns that a lengthy "information war" between the government and its opponents could be escalating.
The team of Sebin (Bolivarian National Intelligence Service) officers confiscated several computers from Medina's home in Valencia on Sunday night.
Medina is the cousin of Alberto Federico Ravell, a well-known opposition journalist and co-founder of Globovision, a major news broadcaster and staunch critic of the Chavez government.
Medina, who was not at home, is accused of instigating terrorism through social networking sites. He is said to be behind the @LucioQuincioC Twitter account, which has claimed that Chavez would not return from Havana, where he is being treated for cancer.
The account remains active and claims to be a collaboration between 20 bloggers in eight cities, mostly overseas.
Venezuela's Vice-President, Nicolas Maduro, said an opposition spokesman, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, was behind the rumours.
Analysts on the state-backed channel Telesur claimed the government was under information attack. "This is an information war. All through the Bolivarian revolution you have seen this sustained information war. Twitter and the social networks are just extensions," said Rosa Miriam Elizalde, a Cuban journalist and editor of Cubadebate.
"We have to confront this impressive power on social networks that is able to destroy the consciousness of a people with ill-intentioned and misconstrued news," added Piedad Cordoba, a Colombian activist and long-time Chavez ally.