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Demands perpetrators be brought to justice
Mar 15, 2019
The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists, vehemently condemned an assault by Venezuelan security forces on Tomasz Surdel, correspondent of the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza in Caracas. Surdel has been reporting on anti-government protests in Venezuela since the beginning of February.
According to Gazeta Wyborcza, Surdel was severely beaten by members of the Venezuelan special police unit FAES on the evening of March 14. The attack reportedly took place when Surdel was stopped while driving through the Bello Monte district in Caracas.
The newspaper told IPI that Surdel presented his passport to the police as requested, who communicated over a radio and ordered him to step out of the vehicle. As Surdel did so, he was overpowered, and his face covered with a black hood. Police officers then beat him, injuring his face and ribs.
Gazeta Wyborcza reported that officers then removed Surdel’s hood, held a pistol close to his face and pulled the trigger to simulate an execution. They then left the scene, abandoning Surdel on the street.
Two weeks ago, the two biggest Spanish-language TV networks in the United States, Univision and Telemundo, condemned the brief detention of their reporters and crews after they interviewed Maduro.
Last week, a US journalist, Cody Weddle, who had worked in Venezuela for several years, was detained then deported after a 12-hour interrogation by military intelligence officers in Caracas.
An NGO backing freedom of expression in Venezuela, Espacio Publico, has counted around 50 detentions of news media employees in Venezuela so far this year.
Maduro, leader of the Socialist Party, accuses foreign media of exaggerating the country’s problems to tarnish the government’s image abroad.
The increasingly isolated socialist government this week arrested well-known radio journalist Luis Carlos Diaz after state media accused him of involvement in an unprecedented nationwide blackout. Diaz was later released under a court order not to make public statements.