Venezuelan journalist completes 12 months in arbitrary detention
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates its call for the immediate release of Roland Carreño, a Venezuelan newspaper and TV journalist who today completes a year in detention in Caracas on totally absurd, trumped-up charges.
A former reporter for the El Nacional daily newspaper who also collaborated with three TV channels – Venevisión, Globovisión and Televén – Roland Carreño was arrested near his Caracas home on 26 October 2020 and has been held ever since on charges of money-laundering, financing terrorism, criminal association and illegal trafficking in weapons of war.
When the first hearing in his case was held on 9 July – more than eight months after his arrest, in violation of the deadlines set by article 309 of Venezuela’s penal code – the judge assigned to the case, Mascimino Márquez, approved the charges brought by the prosecution and rejected all defence appeals, thereby confirming his detention for an indefinite period.
His lawyer, Joel García, says the criminal and judicial proceedings against Carreño suffer from many flaws including the lack of a witness at the time of his arrest, and an initial police report and arrest procedure that violate penal code regulations – all this in addition to the fact that the police planted a firearm and cash in Carreño’s possession on the day of his arrest.
A few days after his arrest, a video of Carreño admitting his guilt was broadcast by Venezuelan state TV channels, above all VTV Canal 8. His lawyer says the confession was clearly extracted under constraint and threats.
“The absurd charges against Roland Carreño and the countless irregularities in the judicial proceedings following his arrest are unacceptable and outrageous,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the director of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “President Nicolás Maduro’s government is yet again mobilising his judicial apparatus in order to silence critical and dissident journalists. We call for the permanent withdrawal of all charges against this journalist and for his immediate release.”
A committed critic of the Maduro government in his journalism, Carreño was also politically active and was the national coordinator of Voluntad Popular, an opposition party. As added grounds for his arrest, the authorities cited his close ties with party leader Leopoldo López, who fled the country and now lives in Spain. The day after Carreño’s arrest, prosecutor-general Tarek William Saab claimed that he was caught in the act of preparing conspiratorial acts.
One of his sons, Franklin Carreño, told RSF that he is being held in appalling conditions, that he has had many health problems and that he caught Covid-19 in prison. He is currently being held in the prison in the Helicoide, the huge building in Caracas that also houses the headquarters of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN).
Venezuela is ranked 148th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.