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Venezuela asks Interpol to arrest openly critical TV station's owner

By the CNN Wire Staff
Guillermo Zuloaga was detained in March and accused of criticizing Venezuelan president.
Guillermo Zuloaga was detained in March and accused of criticizing Venezuelan president.
  • Station owner Guillermo Zuloaga accused of illegally storing vehicles
  • He says charges are politically motivated and trumped up
  • He was previously detained for criticizing President Hugo Chavez
  • International human rights groups criticize Venezuela's actions against critics
  • Hugo Chavez
  • Interpol
  • Globovision

(CNN) -- Venezuela has asked Interpol to arrest the owner of the only TV station still openly critical of leftist President Hugo Chavez, the government announced Friday.

Guillermo Zuloaga, president of Globovision, is accused of illegally storing vehicles with the intent to sell them for a profit, the Venezuelan government said when it issued an arrest warrant last week. His son, also named Guillermo, also is wanted.

Zuloaga and his son have said that he is being persecuted for political purposes and that the charges are trumped up.

He is reported to have left the country, and Venezuela asked the international police agency to arrest him and his son.

"This is a gentleman who has committed a crime, and he should have to answer to Venezuelan justice," Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said Friday. "We have already started the process. We have generated an Interpol alert for the capture of this fugitive, wherever he is. He and his son are sought by a Venezuelan justice tribunal."

The charges against Zuloaga originated in May 2009, when 24 vehicles were found on one of his properties in Caracas. According to the government, they were being kept there in violation of existing law.

Zuloaga, who owns car dealerships, has said the vehicles were stored at his house as part of his business.

Zuloaga was previously detained in March, when he was accused of criticizing the government during a public forum outside the country.

International human rights groups have criticized the legal action against Zuloaga and other Chavez critics, calling such actions an attempt to silence them.