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Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday ordered that the Spanish-language channel of US broadcaster CNN to be taken off the airwaves. The move comes as another blow against critical media coming from the embattled socialist government of Nicolás Maduro amid an acute economic and social crisis.

The National Telecommunications Commission ordered “the immediate suspension of broadcasts”, accusing it of “systematically” attempting to “undermine the peace and the democratic stability” of Venezuela. Some believe the measure is in response to a CNN report on alleged passport fraud at Venezuela’s embassy in Iraq, writes Andres Schipani.

Earlier, the foreign minister lambasted the story as “absolute lies”. The investigation pointed at Venezuela’s deputy president, Tareck El Aissami, as being directly linked to the granting of 173 passports, including to members of the Lebanese militant group Hizbollah. On Monday, the US imposed sanctions on Mr El Aissami.

The administration of Donald Trump alleged Mr El Aissami was a drug kingpin. Mr Maduro countered the US should “retract and apologise publicly to our vice president.” Socialist officials routinely argue that news outlets are waging a “media war” against Venezuela’s government with the connivance of Washington.

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