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Page last updated at 23:40 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 00:40 UK

Chavez backer held over TV attack

Lina Ron. File photo
Lina Ron has been one of Mr Chavez's most ardent supporters

A pro-government activist in Venezuela has handed herself over to the authorities a day after a violent attack on an opposition TV station.

President Hugo Chavez said left-wing militant Lina Ron, who has been one of his most ardent supporters, would now face the full weight of the law.

He deplored the attack on Globovision TV, and said it would help his opponents brand him as a tyrant.

More than 30 people stormed the station in Caracas, firing tear gas.

"She [Lina Ron] handed herself in, and it's good that she presented herself, and has been arrested. There was no other alternative," Mr Chavez said.

He described the attack as a "counter-revolutionary" act, saying that it "gives the enemy weapons to attack me even more as a tyrant".

The attackers have been identified by officials as activists from the Union Patriotica Venezolana (UPV), which supports Mr Chavez.

Globovision, which has been highly critical of President Chavez, is facing several investigations that could also take it off air.

New media bill

Monday's attack came as the arguments over control of the media in Venezuela became increasingly bitter.

Video grab from Globovision shows pro-Chavez activists attacking the station
The attackers forced their way into Globovision's compound

Thirty-four radio stations were ordered off air after the government said they were in breach of the rules for registering or had allowed their broadcast licences to expire. Some 200 other stations are under investigation.

The government in Caracas says it is trying to make the media more democratic.

"The state is retaking control of concessions that were being used in an illegal way over more than 30 and 40 years," said Public Works Minister Diosdado Cabello, who is the head of the telecommunications agency.

"It's an act of justice."

But critics say the move is aimed at giving more space to media that support Mr Chavez and is an attempt to muzzle any critical voices.

Venezuela's attorney general has proposed legislation under which journalists could be imprisoned for up to four years for broadcasting or publishing material that attacks "the peace, security, and independence of the nation and the institutions of the state".

Venezuela still has many private radio stations and newspapers that are stridently opposed to the president but in recent years the government has built up its network of state-run media.



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