Venezuela president's threat to ban opposition draws rebuff

FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2017 file photo, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gives a press conference at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. As the ruling party captured a majority of mayoral seats across Venezuela in early December, Maduro said that opposition parties would be banned from future elections as punishment for boycotting the Sunday races. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos, File)

Ariana Cubillos

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's government is extending its authority over the telecommunications sector to include social media websites.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Monday that the National Telecommunications Commission will monitor social media posts that "spread hate" online.

The announcement came a week after the newly installed constitutional assembly passed a law threatening prison sentences up to 20 years for anybody spreading any message through television, radio or social media that instigates violence or hate.

President Nicolas Maduro has blamed opposition leaders for posting messages on social media that he claims sparked four months of protests earlier this year.

National Assembly President Julio Borges says officials will use the law to punish people critical of human rights abuses.

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