Chilean filmmaker acquitted of extremism charges

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  • April 29, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

Filmmaker Elena Varela, who has documented the lives of indigenous Mapuches for much of her career, was acquitted by three judges who found insufficient evidence to convict her of participating in two violent assaults, La Nación reports.

Varela was filming the Mapuche conflict in southern Chile when she was arrested in June 2008, and offficials confiscated her videos, equipment, and research materials. She was placed under house arrest last August.

Varela was prosecuted under the antiterrorist law, and her case became one of the most emblematic cases for human rights and freedom of expression,
the University of Chile radio reports. Varela says she was framed, in an attempt to halt her efforts to expose the reality of the Mapuche conflict. She says she'll make a film about her experience.

The Association of Documentary Makers of Chile has called on authorities to return Varela's seized materials and has requested a law that protects the confidentiality of documentary makers' sources.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.