Miami (November 20, 2019) – The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) denounced the raid by Venezuelan military police on the offices of news portal Entorno Inteligente and the arrest of at least one staff member.
During Tuesday's raid in Caracas by agents of the Military Counterintelligence Directorate, computers, servers, hard drives, cell phones and other equipment were seized, and operations manager Belén Tovar was arrested.
IAPA President Christopher Barnes and the head of the group's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, "strongly condemned" the authorities' action against Entorno Inteligente and for restricting its journalistic coverage.
Barnes, managing director of the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, and Rock, director of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, put the raid in the context of Venezuela's deteriorating climate of press freedom as noted in IAPA's semi-annual reports, and demanded Tovar's release.
Counterintelligence agents seized servers, computers and documents; the staff was held in the office and stripped of their identification and cell phone chips, including Tovar who was arrested. The director of Entorno Inteligente, Hernán Porras Molina, reported that Tovar and two other people were questioned last Nov. 2 by military police. No reason was given. Entorno Inteligente is owned by the marketing, computer and communication company Venmedios.
The court order ordered the "search and seizure" of "technological equipment, such as hard drives, telephones, pen drives, passports, documentation pertaining to publications against senior officials, as well as any other evidence to clarify the fact that is investigated."
Several news media staff covering the raid were briefly detained including Andrea Espinoza, Jhonatan Bello, Dangert Zorrilla and Jonathan Azuaje of VPITV digital media; and Miguel Da Silva and Roger Castillo from Caraota digital portal.
The IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from the Western Hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.