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Venezuelan Journalist Sentenced to Nine Months' House Arrest

A Venezuelan newspaper journalist critical of President Hugo Chavez has been sentenced to nine months' house arrest for defaming an army officer in a case her supporters denounced as political persecution.

El Universal columnist Ibeyise Pacheco turned herself in Wednesday.

The case against Pacheco stems from a column she wrote which said the officer, Colonel Angel Bellorin, had once falsified his qualifications to get a promotion.

Under the terms of her house arrest, Pacheco faces restrictions on her work and on who comes to visit.

Separately, another journalist, Marianella Salazar, is under investigation on similar charges based on her reporting on Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel.

In 2004, President Hugo Chavez signed a controversial new media law that supporters said would improve the quality of broadcasting, but human rights group and other critics said it would threaten freedom of the press.