By Meg James, Los Angeles Times (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – A second television journalist working for a U.S. media outlet was abducted and detained for several hours Tuesday in Caracas, Venezuela. The correspondent, Daniel Garrido, he was later released.
Garrido is the Venezuela correspondent for Telemundo, the Spanish-language network owned by media giant NBCUniversal. Telemundo said Tuesday that Garrido was grabbed by unidentified gunmen and driven to an undisclosed location. He was held for about six hours.
The incident followed the Venezuelan government’s detention of high-profile journalist Jorge Ramos and his Univision News camera crew for three hours Monday night.
Ramos and his team arrived in Venezuela over the weekend, after securing an interview with beleaguered President Nicolas Maduro at the presidential palace.
Midway through the interview, Maduro apparently objected to the interview tactics of Ramos, who is lead anchor for the Spanish-language network Univision.
Ramos was deported and returned to Miami on Tuesday. His detention made headlines in the U.S., and Garrido was covering that story.
Garrido approached the Hotel Cayena in the La Castellana section of Caracas on Tuesday about 7 a.m.Caracas time.
“A group of unidentified armed men forced him into a vehicle and covered his head with a hood,” Telemundo News said in a statement.
“After questioning him for six hours and seizing his equipment, the kidnappers freed him without explanation and without returning his equipment.”
Telemundo said it verified Garrido’s abduction with his family early Tuesday and began a search process. The Press Workers Union of Venezuela and the Committee to Protect Journalists denounced Garrido’s disappearance.
Hours later, Garrido was released. He emailed the Telemundo News team in Miami to let them know that he was OK. Telemundo called him to verify his safety.
“It is not the first time that Daniel has been harassed during the exercise of his journalistic work,” Telemundo said. “On previous occasions, he has been a victim of physical harassment and his equipment has been stolen.”
The U.S. State Department became involved in the detention of Ramos, who is a U.S. citizen.
On Tuesday, Ramos credited the U.S. government for its swift intervention.
“I really want to thank the U.S. State Department and the American Embassy in Caracas for making sure that we were protected and safe in Venezuela,” Ramos wrote on Twitter. “Their help was instrumental in our safe departure today from Caracas after being detained yesterday by the Maduro regime.”
Telemundo, for its part, decried “this type of harassment that threatens freedom of expression and human rights.” The company called on the Venezuelan government to guarantee the safety of journalists in Venezuela.