A jailed US filmmaker has been released and deported from Venezuela.
Timothy Hallet Tracy was arrested back in April on suspicion of espionage. The filmmaker’s attorney explained that the he was finally released due to a lack of evidence.
Venezuela interior minister Miguel Rodriguez said the jailed filmmaker was being deported on Wednesday. Rodriguez made the surprising announcement on Twitter.
He explained to reporters the director had been released and deported from the country on orders from the president. However, Rodriguez didn’t back down from the accusations against Tracy.
The director was placed on a plane bound for Miami shortly after being released with some help from Rep. William Delahunt. The jailed filmmaker’s family hired Delahunt as an attorney due to his experience working with ties between US and Venezuela.
“He’s been informally advising us since pretty much the onset and we retained him last week” Tracy’s sister explained. The director’s family and Delahunt also credited the US State Department for assisting in the matter.
Timothy Hallet Tracy began work on his documentary back in October. However, he was arrested in April while attempting to return to the United States. Authorities reportedly found video footage and photos they believe prove the filmmaker was involved in espionage.
Tracy’s family said they remained in contact with him during the ordeal. Although he was later transferred to a notoriously rough prison in Venezuela, officials said he was housed in an area dedicated to foreign prisoners.
The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Carlos Lauria was excited about the jailed filmmaker’s release. He hopes that authorities will allow journalists to work in the country without being hassled.
“While we are relieved that Timothy Hallet Tracy’s ordeal is over, his imprisonment was unfounded from the start. That Tracy was imprisoned for six weeks without authorities ever presenting serious evidence smacks of political opportunism at a volatile moment in Venezuela,” Lauria explained.
He added, “We call on authorities and the new government of President Maduro to create a climate in which journalists can work freely and to reverse the 14-year trend under the previous government that saw a serious erosion of press freedom in the country.”
The jailed filmmaker has yet to make a public statement since returning to the United States.
[Image via Shutterstock.com]