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American journalist harassed by intelligence service

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - John Enders, an American freelance journalist and former Associated Press news agency correspondent, has alleged that members of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (SEBIN) have been subjecting him to pressure tactics.

Enders is in Venezuela working on a book about Latin American history and has interviewed representatives of human rights organizations in the country as part of his research.

On 13 February 2011, the journalist was in Sabaneta, a city in the state of Barinas in western Venezuela, when he realized he was being followed and photographed by two unidentified individuals. Enders was conducting an interview with representatives of the opposition party COPEI who, upon verifying that the journalist was indeed being followed, photographed the unidentified individuals. Police officers then immediately appeared and took the memory cards out of their cameras.

As a result of what had taken place, Enders decided to move to a different hotel. On doing so, he was informed by hotel personnel that they had received a telephone call in which the caller asked for him and that an unidentified man had arrived on a motorbike asking if he was there.

Subsequently, on 14 February, the journalist was travelling from Barinas to Mérida with lawyer Lucía Quintero when they noticed that they were once again being followed. Quintero reported the situation to members of the National Guard who were at a police control post. The National Guard officers then detained the men, who identified themselves as members of the SEBIN.

The reason for the harassment of the journalist is still unknown. IPYS-Venezuela, however, will continue to follow the case.

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