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Journalists detained by members of militia

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - On February 8, 2012 a team of journalists from "Ultimas Noticias" newspaper - Abrahán Carvajal and Jesús García - were detained by members of the Bolivarian Militia (pro-government armed troops) inside the Perez Carreño Hospital, west of Caracas. Carvajal informed IPYS-Venezuela that members of the militia entered the room where they were interviewing a patient, and ordered them to leave and head to the Security Office located in the first floor.

Faced with detention of said journalists, Medical Doctor Julio Di Pascuale, Head of Traumatology, and the person who allowed journalists access to the hospital - tried to speak with the officers. He explained to them they were doing work on a campaign aimed at reducing traffic accidents. Despite this, they were taken to the Security Office.

Javier Elias González, head of security of the hospital, took away their video camera, mobile phones, notebooks and erased all information they had collected. González said that the journalists had breached the hospital security norms, as they had not being granted the necessary permit from the Director to do their work. Later on, González forced them to take off their pants because "they were concealing memory cards" in their clothing.

Furthermore, he threatened to send them to the Office of the Military Intelligence should they "not cooperate" with the inspection. The journalists were kept there incommunicado for about three hours, as their mobile phones had been taken away and turned off. They were eventually freed by two officers of the militia who walked them to the exit of the hospital. Their belongings were handed back to them at the exit of the hospital.

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