CPJ alarmed by detention of German freelance reporter in Venezuela

November 29, 2018 2:17 PM ET

German freelancer Billy Six, pictured after his release from Syrian detention in 2013. Six is detained in Venezuela on charges including espionage. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

Miami, November 29, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed concern over the detention in Venezuela of German freelance journalist Billy Six. Venezuelan counterintelligence agents detained Six in the northwestern state of Falcón on November 17, according to his parents and news reports.

After being detained at the Los Taques Beach Hotel on the northern Paraguaná peninsula by the División General de Contrainteligencia Militar (DGCIM), Venezuela's counterintelligence military service, the journalist was transferred to the Caracas headquarters of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (SEBIN), the country's military intelligence service, according to the Venezuelan free speech organization Espacio Público.

A military court on November 18 charged Six with rebellion, "violation of security zones," and espionage under the military justice criminal code, Six's parents told CPJ via email. If convicted, he could face up to 28 years in prison.

Six has produced video reports about the economic and social crisis in Venezuela and Venezuelan migration, and has contributed to several German publications, including Junge Freiheit and the conservative publication Die Deutschen Konservativen eV.

"We are alarmed by the detention of Billy Six in Venezuela and by reports that he has been charged in a military court, which is no place for journalists or other civilians," said CPJ Central and South America Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. "Journalists, including international correspondents, should be free to cover Venezuela's political and economic crisis without fear of reprisal."

The press office of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CPJ that the government was aware of the case and that the embassy in Caracas was providing consular assistance. The German Embassy in Caracas did not respond to CPJ's email seeking comment.

None of the numbers listed for Venezuela's military intelligence service were connected at the time of publication.

Six was previously detained by Syrian authorities for almost three months in late 2012 while reporting in Syria, CPJ documented at the time of his release.

In recent years numerous foreign correspondents have been detained or expelled from Venezuela or denied entry into the country, including a CPJ correspondent in 2016.

Social Media

View All ›