Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for regulation of the Internet on Saturday while demanding authorities crack down on a critical news Web site that he accused of spreading false information.
CARACAS, Venezuela – In a televised speech, Chavez said: "The Internet can't be something free where anything can be done and said. No, every country has to impose its rules and regulations," Chavez said.
He singled out the Venezuelan news site Noticiero Digital, saying it had posted false information that some of his close allies had been killed.
Chavez called for Venezuela's attorney general to take action immediately against the Web site. "This is a crime," he said of the site's reports.
There was no immediate reaction from the Web site, which is a popular outlet for critical news and commentary in Venezuela.
Chavez has regularly clashed with critical broadcasters and newspapers. One anti-Chavez channel, Radio Caracas Television, was forced to move to cable in 2007 after the president refused to renew its license. In January, cable and satellite TV providers also stopped transmitting that channel under government orders after it defied regulations requiring it to televise some of Chavez's speeches.
Referring to satellite TV channels, Chavez said, "It can't be that they transmit whatever they want poisoning the minds of many people — regulation, regulation, the laws!"
The last anti-Chavez channel on the open airwaves, Globovision, faces multiple investigations by government regulators for alleged violations of broadcast regulations.
Chavez called for authorities to take action against Globovision, saying one recent panelist on the channel "has the nerve to say that Chavez, the president of this country, supports drug trafficking and also has the nerve to say there is evidence that here in Venezuela ... a bunch of courses have been given to terrorists from ETA and the FARC."
"That's very serious. That can't be permitted," Chavez said. "I can't put anyone in jail. There are the branches of government that should act, and the people themselves have to act."
The interview that Chavez mentioned came during tensions between Spain and Venezuela after a Spanish judge said he has evidence of Venezuelan government links to the Basque separatist group ETA and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC — both of which are classified as terrorist organizations by the European Union and the United States.
Chavez's government testily denied having links to the two groups, and the two countries have since tried to ease tensions with a joint statement pledging to work together against ETA.