New York, July 13,
2009--A group of Venezuelan journalists with the regional television network
Telesur and the state-owned station Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) left
Honduras on Sunday after being detained and harassed in the capital,
Tegucigalpa. The Committee to Protect Journalists reiterated its call on the
interim Honduran government to respect freedom of expression by allowing all
media to report freely without interference.
"We are gravely concerned that the media environment in Honduras has
become increasingly polarized while the interim government has become more
intolerant," said Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. "The
interim government claims it acted legally in assuming power. But this kind of
crude action targeting a critical media outlet is a clear violation of
On Saturday evening, six reporters from Telesur and VTV were
detained by Honduran police in the parking lot of their hotel and taken to a police
station in Tegucigalpa,
the local and international press reported. All were released early on Sunday after
Venezuelan diplomats intervened, but were told not to leave the hotel, the
Fearing for their safety, the group of reporters left Honduras later that
day. Also on Sunday, another group of VTV journalists left Honduras. The Venezuelan news
agency Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias said that the reporters had been
expelled, The Associated
Press reported. Honduran authorities denied the expulsion of foreign
reporters, and said that the government is not censoring news coverage.
In a public
statement, Telesur, a state-owned broadcaster created by the Chavez
government, said the journalists' passports were confiscated and they were
threatened. The media in Honduras
have become increasingly polarized, with domestic media largely backing the
coup. Both Telesur and VTV have reported favorably on ousted President Manuel Zelaya in their coverage of the ongoing
political crisis, according to news reports.
police said Sunday night that the group of journalists had been detained for
breaking a curfew imposed by the de facto government following Zelaya's ouster.
They also said that the vehicle the Venezuelan crew was using had been reported
stolen by the rental agency, according to the Miami
lifted a curfew on Sunday.
The interim government, which took power following the coup
against Zelaya on June 28, has curtailed freedom of the press,
research shows. Honduran security forces shut down local broadcasters,
blocked transmissions of international news networks, and briefly detained
journalists in the aftermath of the coup. Sources have told
CPJ that the Honduran mainstream media have slanted
coverage to favor the coup leaders.