A car drives on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela, September 29, 2017. A Dutch freelance journalist said Venezuelan security forces detained him on September 21, 2017 while he was on a reporting trip in the country's southern mining district. (Reuters/Ricardo Moraes)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro is partially covered by a television camera as he addresses the media during a news conference at Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela October 17, 2017. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Venezuelan security forces detain Dutch freelancer

Venezuelan security forces on September 21, 2017, detained Dutch freelance journalist Bram Ebus for 18 hours while he was on a reporting trip in the country’s southern mining district in Bolívar state, according to Carlos Correa, the director of Caracas free speech organization Espacio Público.

Ebus later told CPJ that National Guard troops detained him, his driver, and two accompanying local human rights workers, Norayma Angel and Pedro Órtiz, around 6 p.m. inside the Empresa Mixta Minera Ecosocialista Parguaza mining compound, in the village of Parguaza. National Guard members interrogated the group, held them overnight in Parguaza, and then transferred them to a National Guard base in the nearby town of Caicara del Orinoco, Ebus told CPJ.

Around 1 p.m. the next day, the National Guard released all four without charge, according to Ebus.

Ebus, whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Vice, Al Jazeera, and other media outlets, was reporting on the ways mining and land issues affect Paraguaza’s indigenous communities, both Ebus and Correa told CPJ.

The Dutch Embassy in Caracas did not respond to messages from CPJ seeking comment. Correa and Ebus said embassy staff was aware of Ebus’s detention.

The National Guard did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.

The area where Ebus was working is known as Venezuela’s “mining arc” because it is rich in gold, diamonds, coltan and other minerals. The region is also plagued by environmental contamination, organized crime and violence, according to Insight Crime, a Colombia-based research organization.

Over the past three years numerous foreign correspondents have been expelled from Venezuela or denied entry into the country, including a CPJ correspondent in 2016.