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SPJ: Deportation of journalists in Venezuela must stop


J. Alex Tarquinio, SPJ National President, 212-283-0843, atarquinio@spj.org
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists condemns the arbitrary detention and deportation of Cody Weddle from Venezuela. Although we are relieved that the American freelance reporter was released unharmed today, this is yet another incident in a spate of recent anti-press actions by Venezuela with the intention of suppressing critical coverage of the regime.

"Venezuela must stop detaining and deporting journalists," said J. Alex Tarquinio, the national president of SPJ. "It is a sign of disputed President Nicolas Maduro's desperation as his regime unravels that he cannot face the scrutiny of professional journalists."

Weddle was detained after the country’s military intelligence raided his home in Caracas. He was held for 12 hours and then expelled from the country. He arrived in Miami, where some of the outlets that he works for are based, including South Florida’s TV station WPLG Local 10 and the Miami Herald.

"Cody Weddle is a courageous freelance journalist who has been based in Venezuela for the last four years. He knows the issues and the people well, and he should be allowed to continue to cover his beat at this crucial time," Tarquinio said.

Weddle’s arrest came a week after Venezuela deported a team of six Univision journalists led by Jorge Ramos. That action was condemned by Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro, and several U.S. lawmakers. SPJ condemned this action by the Maduro regime as well, and Tarquinio spoke about it on a Univision news program.

Numerous countries, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as interim president of Venezuela, making this a critical time for journalists to cover the issues facing the country and documenting its history.

Shortly before Weddle was grabbed by the military, he had covered Guaido’s return to the country.

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