Venezuelan journalist says freed after 2 days in captivity

November 8, 2017

Venezuelan journalist Jesus Medina speaks with press in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Medina said Tuesday that he had been released following two days of captivity by unidentified men and tortured after photographing criminal gang activities inside a prison. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A Venezuelan journalist said Tuesday that he had been released following two days of captivity and torture after photographing criminal gang activities inside a prison.

Freelance photojournalist Jesus Medina posted photos on Twitter showing bruises on his face and body.

“They tortured and threatened to murder me,” he said, adding that he will continue to report the truth in a fight to improve his country.

Medina reports for DolarToday, an anti-government website. Before he disappeared, both the website and the newspaper El Nacional had published Medina’s photos taken from a hilltop overlook purportedly showing armed inmates patrolling inside the prison along with marijuana crops, satellite dishes and a zoo.

Medina wouldn’t identify his abductors, saying he feared for his safety. He said they detained him in a dark room with no food or water and threatened him with long guns.

At a news conference, Medina said he was grabbed from a bus and put in a van, but had enough time to send an urgent text message to a colleague saying he was being abducted. Medina said his captors told him the wide publicity over his disappearance kept them from killing him.

The ordeal ended roughly 48 hours later when he was dropped off along a busy highway outside Caracas — hands tied behind his back and wearing only in his underwear. Police helped return him to safety, Medina said.

During his disappearance both opposition politicians and government officials had expressed concern. A month earlier, authorities detained him and other journalists while they were visiting the same prison.

Natalie Southwick with the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called on Venezuelan authorities to conduct a full investigation. She said questions remain about Medina’s disappearance.

“It’s hard to know who may be responsible,” she said. “We’d like to see a transparent investigation to find out who is responsible for detaining and beating him up and that they’re brought to justice.”

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