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Journalists denounce attack on freedom of expression in Venezuela

File photo dated March 5, 2013, showing German journalist Billy Six at a press conference in Damascus, Syria. EFE-EPA/File

File photo dated March 5, 2013, showing German journalist Billy Six at a press conference in Damascus, Syria. EFE-EPA/File

EFE

The National Journalists Association (CNP) of Venezuela on Sunday denounced the attacks on freedom of expression it said have been mounted by the Nicolas Maduro government, adding that the media has become a “political target” simply because they are informing the public of what is going on in that country in crisis.

The group posted a message on Twitter to that effect, adding that Maduro’s regime “represses, jails, disappears for hours, tortures and harms” the rights of press workers who are also “threatened” and exposed at public events or on state-run VTV television programs.

“We energetically reject these kinds of acts, which violate human rights,” said the CNP, holding Maduro and the security forces responsible for the “physical integrity” of all press workers in Venezuela.

Also on Sunday, the National Union of Press Workers (SNTP) denounced on Twitter attacks on communicators on regional news Web sites of La Prensa de Lara and El Informador in the western state of Lara as they were covering the visit of a United Nations human rights commission to the area.

The SNTP said that journalists Enmanuel De Sousa and Reinaldo Gomez, with El Informador, were “threatened and pursued by collectives (pro-government groups)” while Agatha Reyes, with La Prensa de Lara, was “attacked” by government officials.

The group also said that the Bolivarian National Guard is preventing journalists from covering the UN commission’s activities in Lara state.

Complaints of attacks on press workers in Venezuela have increased during 2019, especially after the political crisis in the country became more acute with the self-proclamation of opposition Parliament chief Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president.

The Venezuelan Parliament’s Media Committee says that so far this year, almost 200 attacks on the press have been registered.

Meanwhile, German reporter Billy Six, who was conditionally released by Venezuelan authorities last Friday after spending four months under arrest, left Venezuela and is en route to Germany, the NGO Espacio Publico - which defends free speech - reported Sunday.

The 32-year-old Six is in the air right now, flying from Caracas to Germany, said Espacio Publico chief Carlos Correa head of the Espacio Publico, with the group publishing on Twitter a photo of the reporter in a plane giving the V for Victory sign.

Six had been arrested in Falcon state on Nov. 17 for allegedly taking an unauthorized photograph of Nicolas Maduro and for having “suspicious” materials on his mobile phone.

The conditions of his release include the fact that he must appear before a Venezuelan court every two weeks and is prohibited from speaking with the media about his case.

The opposition Encuentro Ciudadano group, headed by lawmaker Delsa Solorzano, said on Twitter that it was accompanying Six back to Germany to “ensure his (physical) integrity.”

Six has covered conflicts and crises in at least 70 countries, including Libya, Ukraine and Syria, and in the latter he was held by state security forces from December 2012 through March 2013.


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