Two Venezuelan journalists who work for foreign media outlets said they were detained by the army while reporting near the presidential palace, triggering condemnation and calls for their release. Andreina Flores, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale and Colombia’s RCN Radio, and Jorge Perez Valery of Colombian network Red Mas sounded the alarm on Twitter after being detained near President Nicolas Maduro’s offices on Wednesday.
“First they detained us in El Calvario (in central Caracas). Then they took us to an army post. Now we’re at Fort Tiuna,” the largest military installation in the Venezuelan capital, Perez Valery wrote. The national journalists’ union, SNTP, said the journalists had been taken to military intelligence headquarters.
They are accused of recording in a “presidential corridor,” the union said in a statement. SNTP “demands these journalists’ immediate release and holds Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez and army commander Antonio Benavides Torres responsible for anything that happens to our colleagues,” it said.
Government rights ombudsman Tarek William Saab said he had sent a delegation to “verify (the journalists’) legal status.”
Media rights groups frequently criticize Venezuela for violating the freedom of the press. One local group, Espacio Publico, registered 286 incidents last year, mainly in the form of intimidation and harassment. Reporters Without Borders ranks the country 137th out of 180 on its worldwide press freedom index.