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Two French reporters freed in Venezuela

April 21, 2017

Two French journalists who had been held in Venezuela since April 11 on drug charges have been freed, and returned to Paris on Friday, the Capa news agency said.

“Capa’s employees are delighted that Sebastian Perez and Didier Barral have been released and are back in France,” the agency said.

The two reporters were arrested at the Caracas airport on April 11 as they were returning from preparing a documentary on the economic and social crisis gripping the country.

They were being held on what Capa denounced as “the unjustified pretext that they were transporting drugs.”

The Venezuelan authorities had not disclosed why they were being held.

The South American country is engulfed in violent protests over a deep economic crisis that has seen President Nicolas Maduro moving to tighten his grip on power, which have left several people dead.

Capa said it wanted to thank “all those who have been working for their release, in particular the French Embassy in Caracas and the Foreign Ministry.”

France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault thanked his Venezuelan counterpart, Delcy Rodriguez “for her contribution” to getting them released.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.