PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Venezuelan authoroties released Journalist Luis Carlos Diaz on Tuesday afternoon after detaining him for about 24 hours.
Venezuela's National Association of Journalists, or CNPVEN, reported authorities released Diaz about 6 p.m.
Naky Soto, his wife, said Venezuelan intelligence agents brought her handcuffed husband home after detaining him while he was riding his bicycle on Monday, raided their home on Tuesday and took him away again.
"Big and scary escalation of Maduro's war on the press, as he looks for blackout scapegoats," New York Times reporter Anatoly Kumanaev wrote on Twitter. "Luis Carlos is one of the sharpest media observers in the country. Detained by secret police for his coverage of the blackout. No officials, of course, fired or even rebuked for the crisis."
Venezuela's National Union of Press Workers reported the agents with the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, or SEBIN, working with military counterintelligence agents, or DGCIM, took him about 5:30 p.m., Monday, and when they returned with him to his home they confiscated computers, a pen drive, cell phones and cash.
Soto said Diaz reported he was hurt during his detention. During the 2:30 a.m. raid, the union reported agents also held several people at gunpoint and identified them as Marco Ruiz, a spokesman for the union, journalists Lila Vanorio and Luz Mely Reyes and Federico Black, a communications consultant.
The Committee to Protect Journalists denounced Diaz's detention.
"Venezuelan authorities should immediately release Luis Carlos Díaz, return his confiscated equipment, and stop this absurd campaign blaming their own failures on critical journalists," said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. "Without electricity, much of the Venezuelan public is already deprived of access to information from TV, radio, and the internet in the midst of an emergency. Harassing and jailing journalists will only exacerbate the crisis."
11:10 Prensa y sociedad civil presentes en la sede de la Fiscalía, en #Caracas, para exigir la liberación del periodista Luis Carlos Díaz, detenido por el Sebin desde este #11Mar pic.twitter.com/HLnLNqE9sj— SNTP (@sntpvenezuela) March 12, 2019
Spain's Foreign Ministry told The Associated Press it is trying to find out from Venezuelan authorities why Diaz, a journalist with dual Spanish and Venezuelan nationality has been detained.
Soto and other supporters of freedom of speech in Venezuela organized an 11 a.m. meeting outside of the prosecutor's office in Caracas to demand his release. She asked the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights to intervene.
According to the Instituto Presan y Sociedad, or IPYS, a nongovernmental organization monitoring freedom of expression in Venezuela, 40 journalist have been the victims of arbitrary detentions in Venezuela this year alone.
With journalists from around the world, including Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, the #LiberenALuisCarlos, or Free Luis Carlos, was trending on social media Tuesday morning. The independent journalist broadcasts live on Union Radio Noticias and, according to El Pais, he is a dual citizen of Spain and Venezuela.