Miami (October 9, 2012)—The temporary detention of Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata at the Caracas, Venezuela, airport and the seizure of his reporter’s materials was protested today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which called on the South American country’s authorities to show full tolerance for the unfettered exercise of press freedom.
According to news reports in the Argentine and Venezuelan media, agents of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) kept Lanata isolated yesterday for two hours at the Maiquetía International Airport when he was about to board a flight home after traveling to Venezuela to cover last Sunday’s presidential elections. Lanata was interrogated and accused of “spying.”
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, declared, “It is regrettable that the press that openly exercises its right to express itself and report on matters that are of national and international public interest is intimidated,” a reference to the fact that also Lanata’s entry into the country last week had been questioned by SEBIN agents.
In addition, Lanata complained that “they erased all my journalistic material.”
During his stay in Venezuela he presented on his television program a report on the alleged enrichment of President Hugo Chávez and his family.
Members of the production team of Lanata’s program “Periodismo Para Todos” (Journalism For All), broadcast by Argentina’s Canal 13, and TN television channels, were also interrogated by SEBIN agents.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.