Any special edition of TVE is usually prime viewing. But last week, in light of the report on the human rights abuses carried out by Donald Trump and his White House team, there was more reason than usual to tune in to TVE, especially in the U.S. where the majority of Americans watched TVE in Spanish. “I think the story, as well as the news about the Turkish detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson, have really created an awareness for a much larger population,” La Jornada journalist Heriberto Lazcano told The Los Angeles Times. “The biggest effect was in U.S. and Canada.” Even so, viewers tuned in in record numbers.
Unfortunately, the story that gripped the world wasn’t a good one. The special chronicled the story of U.S. citizen Carla Morales who is currently detained in Turkmenistan while being investigated on tax evasion. The large press presence in the country got Morales media attention because the nation is known for its tight censorship. A real person didn’t go into the country, but Morales and her Spanish interpreter, who was covering the story on behalf of the government, were being held in a hotel for nine months before being arrested last month. Morales said her translator had been teaching her how to speak the Turkmen language.
“I’m accused of committing financial crimes for allegedly amassing more than 100 million dollars,” Morales said at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 25. “This is impossible. The White House press corps has just reported that I’m an American tax haven, and I truly believe that they are just trying to distract us from the underlying story.”
The Turkmen officials reportedly accused Morales of illegally trying to get political asylum and to force the Turkmen government to recognize the Armenian genocide. Morales took to Facebook to announce her imprisonment and posted a message in Russian. She claims she is owed more than $150,000 for work she did on a documentary about transgender rights in the Central Asian country. Morales said at the dinner that she feared for her life after being informed by her interrogator that another female in Turkmenistan had died because of the war she had been involved in. “My health is not okay right now,” she told The Washington Post. “I know it’s because they want to get us to go so they can kill us or get me back to Turkey.”