A Venezuelan photojournalist who was kept in a military prison without a trial for 16 months has been released, activists say.

Jesús Medina, 37, was part of a team investigating the country’s healthcare crisis when he was detained in Caracas.

He faced charges including inciting hate, illegal enrichment and criminal association, but a hearing on his case was postponed 10 times. Officials have not explained why he has been freed.

Seven other people were also released.

According to Foro Penal, a local human rights group, there are 388 political prisoners in Venezuela, which has suffered from years of economic and political crisis under President Nicolás Maduro.

Medina, who contributed to several outlets including opposition publications, was detained by agents of the National Bolivarian Intelligence Agency (Sebin) on 29 August 2018. He was later sent to the maximum security Ramo Verde prison on the outskirts of the capital.

The criminal file did not include any legal or factual analysis to substantiate the charges, according to a lawyer from his defence team quoted by the Committee to Protect Journalists in a report last year. Activists said his health had deteriorated because of the prison conditions.

José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said last May that Mr Medina’s detention was “consistent with a pattern of arbitrary arrests and harassment of opponents, critics, and those who dare expose the truth about what is happening in Venezuela”.

Mr Medina was previously detained in October 2017 while reporting at a prison in northern Venezuela with two international journalists, the CPJ said. After his report was published, he went missing and was found two days later on a highway outside the capital.

According to Foro Penal, the other people released included Manuel Chacín, Jorman Linares and Michael Vargas. Local media reports said they had been detained in October 2017.

The releases happen a day after chaotic scenes at the country’s National Assembly after security officers prevented opposition leader Juan Guaidó from taking part in the election of a new Speaker. As a result, dissident opposition lawmaker Luis Parra was elected.

But National Assembly members backing Mr Guaidó said the move amounted to a parliamentary coup, and held a rival vote outside the chamber re-electing him as Speaker. The legislature starts a new session on Tuesday.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ pushes the adult fantasy genre beyond ‘Game of Thrones’ ǀ View

HBO’s flagship show “Game of Thrones” has gone west of Westeros. Its absence opened a void several streaming services are already rushing to fill. Just in time for the holidays, Netflix is debuting its biggest contender for the fantasy iron…

Rebels kill police in Kashmir ahead of India’s Independence Day

Rebels attacked a police team in Indian-administered Kashmir on Friday, killing two officers and wounding one despite tight security in the disputed majority-Muslim region ahead of India’s Independence Day. A group of fighters opened fire on the police team that…

Germany to revamp financial oversight after Wirecard scandal

BERLIN — Germany’s finance minister says he wants to revamp the oversight system for the country’s financial industry in the wake of the accounting scandal at payment systems provider Wirecard. The Munich-based Wirecard filed for bankruptcy recently after auditors couldn’t…

Justice Dept. changes tune, says ex-Trump aide Michael Flynn should serve up to six months in prison

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department, in a change of heart, said Tuesday it no longer supports a lenient sentence for President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. In a court filing, prosecutors said he should be sentenced for…