Miami, March 12, 2019 -- Venezuelan authorities should immediately release radio journalist Luis Carlos Díaz, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Family members lost contact with Díaz yesterday at around 5:30 pm, when he was detained by intelligence agents, according to news reports and local press freedom group IPYS Venezuela. Agents later raided his home and confiscated equipment including computers and phones, according to those reports.
Díaz holds dual citizenship with Spain and Venezuela, according to Madrid-based daily El País. He works for Unión Radio News in Caracas and also produces digital radio and video programs with his wife, political commentator Naky Soto, which are distributed via social media, according to El País.
During his television show last week on the state media program "Con el Mazo Dando," the influential pro-Maduro politician Diosdado Cabello showed a video clip of Díaz and accused him of "sabotage," alleging that Díaz played a role in the electricity outage that has left some parts of Venezuela without power since last Thursday, according to news reports.
"Venezuelan authorities should immediately release Luis Carlos Díaz, return his confiscated equipment, and stop this absurd campaign blaming their own failures on critical journalists," said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. "Without electricity, much of the Venezuelan public is already deprived of access to information from TV, radio, and the internet in the midst of an emergency. Harassing and jailing journalists will only exacerbate the crisis."
Last week, Venezuelan counterintelligence agents detained U.S. journalist Cody Weddle and Venezuelan fixer Carlos Camacho and interrogated them for about 12 hours before releasing Camacho and expelling Weddle, as CPJ reported at the time.