Venezuela news site ordered to pay $5 million to key regime figure

Caracas (AFP) –


A prominent Venezuelan news website said Tuesday it was ordered by the country's Supreme Court to pay some five million dollars in damages and interest to a powerful politician in the ruling regime.

Diosdado Cabello, who heads the all-powerful National Assembly, took the La Patilla site to court for putting up an article from the Spanish daily ABC -- published three years previously -- that accused him of having links to drug trafficking.

In a final ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the online portal to pay 30 billion bolivars ($5 million dollars) to Cabello for "moral damage". Cabello earlier said he would be willing to take control of La Patilla if it was unable to pay.

Website director Alberto Ravell -- who is close to opposition leader Juan Guaido -- wrote on Twitter Cabello had engaged in "judicial terrorism", but that he would "not be intimidated".

Cabello had previously brought cases against the ABC in Spain and the Wall Street Journal in the US after they published articles linking him to drug trafficking. Both were rejected by the courts.

Venezuela has been in deep political crisis for months, with an ongoing fight between President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has named himself interim president -- a claim recognised by some fifty countries including the US.