Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Venezuela Frees, Deports U.S. "Spy" Filmmaker (Updated)

U.S. filmmaker Timothy Tracy is expected to arrive in Los Angeles later today after Venezuelan officials freed and deported him.

“The gringo Timothy Hallet Tracy, captured committing espionage in our country, has been expelled from the national territory,” tweeted Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres this morning regarding the 35-year-old.  Furthermore, Tracy’s lawyer said that his client boarded a flight from Caracas to Miami this morning and was scheduled to fly on to Los Angeles.

"He's animated… (It) all worked out well in the end " attorney Daniel Rosales told USA TODAY.  He added that Tracy was treated well during the roughly six weeks he spent behind bars.

Tracy was detained on April 24th at Caracas’ international airport, and accused of inciting post-electoral violence and conspiring against the Venezuelan government.

“We have no doubt that he is an intelligence operative based on his training.  He knows how to infiltrate, recruit others and manage security information,” Rodriguez said at a press conference the day after Tracy was arrested.

Supporters of Tracy rejected the government’s accusations and alleged that he was in Venezuela since last October working on a documentary based on the deep political divisions in the country.

"They don't have CIA in custody. They don't have a journalist in custody. They have a kid with a camera," said Aengus James, a friend and associate of Tracy shortly after he was detained.

Tracy’s arrest was also denounced by the U.S. government including President Barack Obama who said, “The idea that this individual is a spy is ridiculous.”

The Tracy affair comes at a sensitive time in the fractured diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Venezuela.  The White House has yet to recognize the April 14th presidential election won by then-interim leader Nicolás Maduro.  Nevertheless, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet today with his Venezuelan counterpart, Elias Jaua at the Organization of American States summit in Guatemala.

(Update: After meeting with Jaua, Kerry referred to Tracy's release as a "positive development." He also expressed his hope that Wednesday's meeting could signal a "change in the dialogue between (the U.S. and Venezuela) and hopefully quickly move the appointments of ambassadors between our nations.")  

Tracy's release was secured with the help of former U.S. Rep. William Delahunt, said the sister, Tiffany Tracy Klaasen who claimed that her family kept in contact with her brother:
Klaasen said the family spoke frequently to Tracy while he was held.
"He was treated very well," she said. "I was never concerned for his safety."
Klaasen said that even after Tracy was transferred last week to a notoriously unruly prison, El Rodeo, the family was assured he was in no danger.
Video Source– YouTube via euronews (Video published on Apr 26, 2013).

Online Sources including Update – USA TODAY: ABC News; CBS News; El Espectador; The Latin Americanist, BBC News

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