Chilean-Venezuelan journalist detained in Venezuela is transferred to new state; countries spar over detention

A Venezuelan journalist whose family has reported him as missing on two different occasions, has resurfaced in a detention center in Guárico state.

Braulio Jatar Alonso was first reported missing by his family on Sept. 3. It was later discovered that he was detained by the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) on the island of Margarita and was subsequently charged with money laundering.

Family members and international organizations rejected the detention as an attack of press freedom in the country. People point to the fact that Reporte Confidencial, the news site where Jatar is director, covered a demonstration against President Nicólas Maduro on Sept. 2.

Then on Sept. 11, Jatar’s family members said the journalist was transferred to an unknown location, according to EFE.

The rumor about Jatar’s possible transfer started on Sept. 10, but neither his lawyers nor relatives received an official notification, according to site Efecto Cocuyo.

When his wife Silvia Martínez went to breakfast on Sept. 11, she was told that a notification of the transfer had arrived and he was no longer in Margarita, according to Efecto Cocuyo. Although Martínez was told that Jatar was transferred to a prison in the state of Guárico, relatives had not been able to confirm if the journalist was actually there.

According to the journalist’s son, Braulio Martínez Jatar, the transfer is strange considered that an appeal was scheduled on Monday and a doctor’s appointment was scheduled for Tuesday because the elder Jatar suffers from hypertension, Efecto Cocuyo reported.

His wife complained via Twitter about the lack of information on the new place of detention and expressed to the Ombudsman, Tarek William Saab, her concern about the journalist’s health.

After learning about what happened, the Chilean government, through the Foreign Ministry, issued a statement on Sept. 11 in which it demanded his Venezuelan counterpart report on the place the journalist was being detained, among other requests.

“The Chilean government demands that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela takes charge of this anomalous situation, ensures the minimum standards that should be observed in any detention, reports immediately the place where Sr. Jatar was transferred, and allows him to be visited there by his lawyer, family members and the Consul of the Republic of Chile – the latter exercising the powers conferred under the Vienna Convention,” the statement said.

The Ministry of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela issued a statement on Sept. 12 in which it rejected the statement from the Chilean government, referring to Chile’s [unacceptable meddling, false assumptions and lack of diplomatic circumspection.”

The statement simply rejected the actions of the Chilean government, without disclosing the place where Jatar was detained, but pointed out that the journalist is currently processed “for the crimes of extortion, fraud, money laundering and against the constitutional and democratic order in Venezuela, among others.”

For the Venezuelan government, because Jatar is Venezuelan, he has his residence in that country and allegedly committed crimes in that territory, there should be not “one iota of interpretation and doubt” about “the applicable Venezuelan law, not subject to consular assistance of any foreign country.”

It also accused the Chilean foreign minister of acting under pressure from “the bourgeoisie pinochestista and the international elite, allied to the Venezuelan golpista right, and contrary to the interests of the peoples of the Great Homeland.”

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.