Director of Venezuelan news site placed under house arrest after almost nine months in jail

Chilean-Venezuelan journalist Braulio Jatar, who has been in jail since Sept. 3, 2016, has been released and is under house arrest.

“We are in the middle of so much injustice. The family feels relieved because my brother after nine months in jail, and being innocent, is able to be at home and to get better, and to recover from a lot of physical problems and psychological issues that he needs to get over,” his sister Ana Julia Jatar told the Knight Center. “So, he will start his recovery right away and we’ll continue the fight for his freedom because he’s innocent and he should not be under house arrest, he should be free.”

Family members posted about Braulio’s return home on Twitter on May 24.

Braulio was in jail for almost nine months. In that time, family members and lawyers denounced irregularities in his detention process and inhumane treatment.

Braulio is officially charged with money laundering, but his family and human rights organizations have said his incarceration was in retaliation for a video published on the website of Reporte Confidencial, the media outlet he directs. The video was of a citizen protest against President Nicolás Maduro who was visiting Margarita Island on Sept. 2, 2016.

In December, family members and his lawyers revealed he was suffering from skin cancer.

At the time, Ana Julia Jatar, told the Knight Center about the deterioration of her brother’s health, including increasing problems with hypertension. She also said family members told her he was subjected to “harassment” and “humiliation” and had been in solitary confinement.

On May 25, she told the Knight Center her brother had a procedure to remove the cancer, which was fortunately not melanoma.

During his detention, Braulio was in four different jails. In the last, Ana Julia said her brother did not have running water or light. The lack of running water caused two hernias that were operated on, she explained. After that procedure, Ana Julia said the doctor reported he couldn’t go back to that jail in those conditions and without medical service.

She said a combination of issues led to Braulio receiving house arrest. She considers that it was pressure from the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Chilean government and the internal political situation in Venezuela.

The family is now waiting for the next steps for the trial.

Family members previously said Braulio disappeared for 12 hours after being detained, that a search of his house without a judicial order was carried out during that time, and that officials allegedly “planted” money in his vehicle to charge him with money laundering.

“We believe that since the only witness that the prosecutor had has already confessed that he doesn’t know my brother, has never met him, and wasn’t even in the city where my brother was taken to prison, the day that he was taken prisoner, we believe that the prosecutor will just lift the charges,” Ana Julia said. “If they don’t lift the charges, then it’s another demonstration that this is a political issue and this is not a legal issue.”

The Office of the Public Prosecutor of Venezuela was contacted for this report, but had not responded by the time of publication.


*Silvia Higuera contributed to this report.

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.