Chávez Critic Is Arrested, Then Freed, in Venezuela
Agents from Venezuela’s military intelligence agency on Thursday arrested Guillermo Zuloaga, the owner of the independent television network Globovisión and one of the country’s most influential critics of President Hugo Chávez, heightening concerns over an intensifying clampdown on news organizations and opposition political leaders.
Mr. Zuloaga was released several hours later and told not to leave the country while the investigation continued. International human rights groups and the Organization of American States had pressed the government to release him.
Attorney General Luisa Ortega said that Mr. Zuloaga had been arrested in connection with comments he made this month at an Inter American Press Association meeting in Aruba that were considered false and “offensive” to Mr. Chávez. Among other remarks at the meeting, Mr. Zuloaga pointedly criticized methods used by Mr. Chávez’s government to shut down news outlets, and was quoted as saying it meant the country lacked freedom of expression.
The arrest of Mr. Zuloaga comes at a time when Mr. Chávez’s government is adopting an increasingly harsh approach to dealing with the president’s critics. Mr. Chávez, who is facing broad public ire over continuing electricity blackouts and a sharply contracting economy, recently pushed another critical television network, RCTV, off the airwaves.