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IFEX-ALC condemns arbitrary detention of Venezuelan Twitter user Pedro Jaimes Criollo

Account logo for Aereo Meteo, Jaimes Criollo's account
Account logo for Aereo Meteo, Jaimes Criollo's account

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The IFEX-ALC – a network of Latin American and Caribbean organisations – categorically rejects the arbitrary detention, legal persecution, disappearance and torture carried out by the Venezuelan government against Pedro Jaimes Criollo for exercising his human right to freedom of expression. The IFEX-ALC also rejects the systemic violation of his rights to due process, physical safety, and his private and family life.
On 3 May 2018, Jaimes Criollo used his Twitter account (@AereoMeteo) to share information about Venezuelan airspace, as he often did - the only difference being that this time he showed the presidential aircraft route. Images of aircraft radar, satellite weather information, and the presidential aircraft's acronym can be easily found online. This information is in the public domain.

On 10 May, Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN) officers detained Jaimes Criollo without a warrant. On 12 May, he appeared in court on charges of endangering national security, and was then sent to pretrial detention. On 15 May, SEBIN officers broke into Jaimes Criollo's home, located in Los Teques, northern Venezuela. The officers took several electronic devices and personal items.

Following the hearing on 12 May, the SEBIN transferred Jaimes Criollo to an unknown location. From that date, until 15 June, Jaimes Criollo disappeared. During those 33 days, the Venezuelan State denied his detention. On 15 June, Jaimes Criollo phoned his family and told them that he was imprisoned in El Helicoide, a SEBIN facility. There has yet to be any official recognition of his detention.

Jaimes Criollo is imprisoned along with 10 other detainees in a 4-by-5 metre space. He does not have access to sunlight, and the conditions of his cell are poor. He was tortured into sharing his social media passwords. He has a fractured rib – the product of repeated beatings – and his entire body is bruised. He has fainted and has chronic asthma attacks, and has difficulty sleeping.

The organization Espacio Público wishes to serve as Jaimes Criollo's legal defense. The government has not, however, allowed for access to the investigation and legal procedures. The defence is subject to the limitations of state secrecy.

Jaimes Criollo has been criminalised for exercising his right to freedom of expression. He has been prevented from choosing his counsel, and been subject to torture and inhumane conditions in detention. He is furthermore prohibited from receiving family visits and medical attention. His health is at risk. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan authorities continue to deny his human rights.

The undersigned 24 organisations demand the Venezuelan government immediately and fully release Pedro Jaimes Criollo. Said organisations call on the Venezuelan government to provide reparations for the harm caused, and to put an end to repressive politics and arbitrary actions against Venezuelan citizens who disseminate information in the public interest and share their opinions.

Artículo 19 (Mexico and Central America)
Artigo 19 (Brazil)
Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias América Latina y el Caribe (AMARC ALC)
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC)
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública
Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala - CERIGUA
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
Comité por la Libre Expresión - C-Libre
Derechos Digitales
Espacio Público
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
Fundación Karisma
Fundamedios - Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión - IPLEX
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
Latin American Observatory of Regulation, Media and Convergence - OBSERVACOM
National Press Association
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA
Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay
Trinidad and Tobago's Publishers and Broadcasters Association

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