Lawyer: German journalist detained in Venezuela set free

In this file photo taken on March 5, 2013 German independent journalist Billy Six, whose employers said had been out of contact for almost four months, is pictured during a press conference in Damascus were he was handed over to the Russian embassy by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad. (AFP)
Updated 16 March 2019
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Lawyer: German journalist detained in Venezuela set free

  • Resident of a Berlin suburb, Six has traveled the globe as an independent journalist for 12 years, publishing his reports in right-wing outlets

CARACAS, Venezuela: A German freelance journalist jailed in Venezuela since November on espionage charges was released Friday within weeks of two other reporters being expelled from the tumultuous South American nation, his parents and a human rights attorney confirmed.
A court in the capital of Caracas ordered journalist Billy Six to be let go under the conditions that he report back every 15 days and not speak to media, attorney Carlos Correa of Public Space told The Associated Press.
Six, 31, won’t be deported from Venezuela, but Correa also said that the journalist isn’t prevented from leaving if he chooses.
“We are overjoyed!” his parents Ute and Edward Six posted on a Facebook, also railing against Germany’s foreign ministry for not doing enough to help their son who spent 119 days in solitary confinement.
“Viva Venezuela!” they wrote. “Free Billy Six!“
Resident of a Berlin suburb, Six has traveled the globe as an independent journalist for 12 years, publishing his reports in right-wing outlets. His arrest has generated little interest in mainstream German media, which relatives blame on his conservative affiliation.
In Venezuela, he documented the economic collapse and mass migration from the socialist country, landing in jail on espionage charges that his family rejected as false.
This wasn’t Six’s first arrest amid turmoil. In 2013, he was jailed by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad for three months after illegally entering that country to report on its bloody civil war. He was eventually handed over unharmed to Russian diplomats in Damascus who had helped secure his release.
A photo posted on Six’s Facebook page in May 2011 shows him holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher on his shoulder, with a caption indicating it was taken on the front line of fighting in Syria.
Six turned his attention to Venezuela over a year ago. His father previously told The AP that his son entered the country legally but was unable to secure journalist credentials required by Venezuela to work as a reporter.
While reporting on Venezuela, Six posted two crudely edited German-language videos online showing him walking the streets, interviewing people and at times narrating his conclusions, critical of Maduro’s socialist government.
“Hola amigos, I’m still in Venezuela, South American socialism of the 21st century,” Six says, opening one video. “Here on the street there’s dust, dirt, garbage, street dogs.”
While the government of socialist President Nicolas Maduro has little tolerance for critical coverage by local press, foreign journalists who cross officials are usually spared the same harsh treatment. In the past, foreign reporters, like Six, who weren’t accredited would stay in custody for just a few days before being ejected from the country.
The release of Six follows the recent deportation of other two journalists.
Venezuelan security forces seized US freelance journalist Cody Weddle earlier this month at his apartment in Caracas where he had worked for over five years. Most recently, Weddle sent dispatches to a Miami TV station.
Univision’s Jorge Ramos was also deported in late February with his team after Maduro, who cut short and interview after 17 minutes when he was shown video on an iPad shot a day earlier of young Venezuelans eating food scraps out of the back of a garbage truck.


Cartoon tribute to Christchurch attack victims praised on social media

Updated 4 min 17 sec ago
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Cartoon tribute to Christchurch attack victims praised on social media

LONDON: A cartoon by Canberra Times artist Pat Campbell representing the 50 lives lost in the Christchurch terror attack depicted in the New Zealand “silver fern” has been praised widely on social media.
The cartoon by Campbell, an award-winning artist, shows Muslims in the different stages of prayer. His original which had 49 figures represented, published on Saturday March 16, was later updated by the artist himself to reflect the 50 lives lost.
Speaking to BuzzFeed News, he said: “I was thinking of the silver fern and thinking the pinnae (the individual bits coming off the stem) looked like figures, a similar number to the number of victims.”

The artist added that he owns land just outside the city and has friends in Christchurch, which prompted him to produce the artwork.
Having not slept well in the wake of the atrocity, Campbell got the idea while lying in bed.
“There were a lot of silhouettes to draw,” Campbell said. “They just kept coming. It brought home to me the death toll and the destruction one man can do with the right weapons.”