Venezuelans Facing Jail Time for Tweeting About Banks

@leaoxford and @carmennares are facing up to 11 years in prison.

Twitter bird behind bars


Just days after Vice President Elias Jaua warned that generating rumors
about Venezuela’s in-crisis banking system is a “crime punishable by
imprisonment from nine to 11 years,” Luis Enrique Acosta and Carmen
Cecelia Nares were detained as a result of their tweets, the

L.A. Times reports.

A total of 12 banks in Venezuela have been seized
since December. Acosta (@leaoxford) warned his 225 followers to remove money from a bank he
suspected was facing takeover. (His Twitter account is protected now, so we have no way of verifying this information–please email us if you have details.) Now he’s facing prison time after being accused of spreading rumors surrounding the country’s banking system. Authorities said 15 others may be charged as well.

Acosta and Nares are on a conditional release pending trial, but have been banned from posting similar messages online.

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has condemned the case and the government’s attempted censorship of Internet use. We’ve seen tweets lead to some pretty bad consequences, but it’s safe to say that 140 characters translating into 11 years jail time is the scariest yet.