Journalist Braulio Jatar is freed from house arrest, but prohibited from leaving Venezuela

Chilean-Venezulean journalist Braulio Jatar Alonso, who has been under house arrest since May 2017 after spending nine months in prison, was freed on July 4, according to CNN en Español.

The Supreme Court of Justice of Venezuela announced via Twitter the cessation of the precautionary measures of the Venezuelan criminal code imposed on Jatar following his release.

Jatar, however, will have to appear before a court every 15 days and is prohibited from leaving the country, as he told the press in a video published by the site Reporte Confidencial, of which he is the director.

"When we talk about releases like this, I've said it before, they take us out of the cage and simply throw a chain around our necks," Jatar told his colleagues after leaving the courts where he learned about his current situation.

Jatar was one of the 22 prisoners released on July 4 after the presentation of the report on the situation in Venezuela by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, in Geneva, Switzerland, as reported by CNN en Español.

Bachelet's report indicates that the space for free and independent media in Venezuela has been reduced. “Over the past years, the Government has attempted to impose a communicational hegemony by enforcing its own version of events and creating an environment that curtails independent media,” it said.

"I ask, from the legal point of view, that the public prosecutor, to whom Commissioner Bachelet has indicated as not complying with its legal or constitutional obligations, that it complies with the duty of registering the evidence that it has hidden," Jatar said regarding the statements presented before the entity that would allegedly prove his innocence, Reporte Confidencial said.

The Chilean-Venezuelan journalist was detained on Sept. 3, 2016, and later accused of money laundering. His detention occurred a day after the site that he directs published a citizen video of a protest against the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro during his visit to Isla Margarita on Sept. 2. At the time, his relatives and several organizations denounced irregularities in his detention.

Almost nine months later, on May 24, 2017, Jatar was sent home under house arrest. This was due to the serious health problems afflicting the journalist, the numerous diplomatic efforts of the Chilean government to secure his release and the pressure of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the journalist’s sister, Ana Julia Jatar, said in an interview with the Knight Center at that time.

The journalist’s sister also said that during these nine months in prison, Jatar was held in four different jails, one of which did not have light or water.

"I have been deprived of my freedom for three years for the simple fact of reporting the truth," Jatar told reporters. He also advised his colleagues to continue reporting and to remain courageous. "Keep setting an example that I, modestly, am now on the street to help you," he added.

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