German journalist Billy Six seen in Damascus on March 5, 2013. Six was recently released from prison in Venezuela, where he had been held for nearly four months. (Louai Beshara/AFP)

German freelancer Billy Six freed, leaves Venezuela after 4 months in prison

March 18, 2019 10:37 AM ET

New York, March 18, 2019 -- German freelance reporter Billy Six returned to Germany yesterday after spending almost four months in detention in Venezuela, according to news reports.

Venezuelan authorities granted Six conditional release on the night of March 15, with orders to present himself to authorities every two weeks and refrain from speaking about his case, according to local press freedom group Espacio Público. He was not deported but was allowed to leave Venezuela if he chose to, and boarded a flight out of Caracas yesterday morning, according to The Associated Press.

"We are relieved that Billy Six has finally been freed and allowed to return home, but he should never have been jailed or faced outrageous spying charges in the first place," said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. "Venezuelan authorities should stop using detention and criminal procedures as tools to intimidate and silence journalists reporting on the country's political crisis."

Counterintelligence agents detained Six in the northwestern state of Falcón on November 17, 2018, and a military court charged him with rebellion, "violation of security zones," and espionage, as CPJ reported at the time.

In recent weeks, CPJ has covered a number of detentions of journalists by Venezuelan authorities including radio journalist Luis Carlos Díaz, a Univision reporting team led by Jorge Ramos, and U.S. journalist Cody Weddle, all of whom have been released or deported from the country.

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