March 15, 2019 / 5:42 PM / 10 days ago

Polish journalist beaten by Venezuelan police: press union

CARACAS (Reuters) - A Polish journalist was beaten by Venezuelan police on Thursday night in the capital, Caracas, the country’s press workers union said on Friday, denouncing harassment of reporters by the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

Tomasz Surdel of Warsaw-based Gazeta Wyborcza was stopped by police officers belonging to a special forces group known as FAES who initially asked to see his documents, the National Union of Press Workers said via Twitter.

The officers then covered Surdel’s face, hit him in the head with a blunt object and threatened him at gunpoint, the union said.

The Information Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Maduro, leader of the Socialist Party, accuses foreign media of exaggerating the country’s problems to tarnish the government’s image abroad.

The increasingly isolated socialist government this week arrested well-known radio journalist Luis Carlos Diaz after state media accused him of involvement in an unprecedented nationwide blackout. Diaz was later released under a court order not to make public statements.

Last week, military intelligence agents detained American freelance correspondent Cody Weddle and later deported him after interrogating him over his reporting of defections by military officers.

U.S. television journalist Jorge Ramos was detained while interviewing Maduro and later deported along with his production team.

Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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