U.S. filmmaker accused of inciting post-vote violence in Venezuela
CARACAS — A 35-year-old filmmaker from California has been arrested by Venezuelan authorities who are accusing him of inciting postelection violence on behalf of the American government.
President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday that he personally ordered Timothy Tracy's arrest on suspicion of “creating violence in the cities of this country.” Venezuela's interior minister said Tracy was working for American intelligence, paying right-wing youth groups to hold violent demonstrations in order to destabilize the country after Maduro's narrow election win last week.
Friends and family of Tracy told The Associated Press that he had been in Venezuela since last year making a documentary about the country, which is bitterly divided politically as the socialist heirs of the late President Hugo Chavez struggle to maintain control of a country beset by economic and political turmoil.
The Georgetown University English graduate was a story consultant on the 2009 documentary “American Harmony,” about competitive barbershop quartet singing, and produced the Discovery Channel program “Under Siege,” about terrorism and smuggling across the U.S.-Canada border, as well the History Channel series “Madhouse,” on modified race-car drivers in North Carolina.
Tracy had been detained at least twice before by Venezuela's SEBIN intelligence police. The last time was five days before the April 14 presidential election when he was taking video of a pro-government rally in the port city of Puerto Cabello, said an associate who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to endanger people inside Venezuela.
The U.S. Embassy in Caracas declined comment, citing citizen privacy.
In Washington, State Department spokesman William Ostick said consular officials in Venezuela are attempting to meet and speak with Tracy.