CARACAS: Venezuelan authorities have detained five foreign journalists covering the stand-off with opposition forces seeking the ouster of President Nicolas Maduro.
Two others, from Chile, were deported as the crisis spilled over to hit journalists covering the oil-rich but economically crippled nation’s latest taste of crisis.
Two of the detained are from France, two from Colombia and one from Spain.
The latter three worked for the Spanish national news agency Efe and had all come from Colombia to cover the growing turmoil.
Their detention was reported by the Efe bureau chief in Venezuela, Nelida Fernandez.
Two French journalists working for a TV programme called Quotidien were detained Tuesday while filming outside the presidential palace, diplomatic sources said. A local producer working with them was also detained.
Two Chilean TV journalists were detained Tuesday night near the presidential palace and held for 14 hours before being expelled from the country, Chilean Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero said.
The reason stated for their arrest was that they had been working in a “security zone,” he said.
“This is what dictatorships do. Stomp on freedom of the press,” the minister wrote on Twitter.
In recent years, several foreign journalists have been detained or kicked out of the country on grounds that they did not have press passes.
Without mentioning the latest arrests, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Wednesday that foreign reporters have entered the country without work permits.
Venezuela’s political crisis intensified this month as national assembly speaker Juan Guaido declared himself interim president.
Protests against the Maduro government have left around 40 dead and 850 have been arrested since they started on January 21, according to UN figures.