Billy Six

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Venezuelan counterintelligence agents detained German freelance reporter Billy Six in the northwestern state of Falcón on November 17, 2018, 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. The journalist’s parents said that the military prosecutor has 45 days to substantiate the charges.

If convicted, Six 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.

According to his parents, authorities have barred Six from communicating with anyone outside of prison, including a lawyer or contacts at the German embassy.

The press office of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CPJ in late November 2018 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.

As of late 2018, none of the numbers listed for Venezuela’s military intelligence service were connected.

Several news outlets reported that Six has contracted dengue fever in prison.