Venezuelan journalist Ana Belén Tovar released after five-month detention

After five months of imprisonment, Ana Belén Tovar, editor of the media outlet Entorno Inteligente and operations manager of Venmedios, was released after being detained since last November during a raid on the facilities of Entorno Inteligente, according to various media reports. Human rights and freedom of expression organizations have demanded Tovar's freedom since the detention.

These associations, some publications in Venezuela and her lawyers argue that the journalist was arbitrarily detained and her detention was full of "irregularities."

Tovar was released on May 6 from the headquarters of the Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence (DGCIM, for its acronym in Spanish) in Boleíta, Caracas, according to El Nacional.

"Officials prohibited taking photographs at the time of her release," the Venezuelan freedom of expression civil association, Espacio Público, published on Twitter.

The DGCIM detained Tovar, along with four of her colleagues and six workers from Caraota Digital and VPI after a raid on Nov. 19, 2019. Venezuelan media reported that the detained journalists from Caraota Digital and VPI were covering the raid on the offices of Entorno Inteligente.

El Nacional reported that all those who had been detained had been released the day after, except Tovar.

According to Venezuelan newspaper TalCual, the search and seizure order of the DGCIM was presented to "'seize evidence' about an act 'of criminal interest,' expressly referring to 'publications against high officials, or any other evidence that may clarify the event that is investigated.'”

The newspaper reported that "in the case file they refer to publications related to the minister Vladimir Padrino López, 'and his family situation, by reason of his office, they defame, offend and develop a false opinion matrix, and among its objectives is, to generate content to the detriment of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), likewise, to discredit all those who make up this military institution.'”

Tovar's lawyers claim that her detention was a "process full of irregularities that was established from an illegal raid," El Nacional reported. On April 25, the National Association of Journalists of Venezuela, Caracas section, advocated for the journalist’s freedom on social networks and declared that the process was "characterized by arbitrariness and ignorance of the law."

According to the human rights organization Foro Penal, there are 367 political prisoners in Venezuela as of May 4, 2020.

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