Venezuela frees musician jailed after blasting government


Karen Palacios, center, is helped by family members after she was released from prison at Los Teques on the outskirts of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 16, 2019. Palacios who plays the clarinet and was cut from the National Philharmonic for criticizing the government, was detained for 6 weeks. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Authorities in Venezuela on Tuesday released from prison a young musician who was jailed six weeks ago after taking to social media to vent her frustration against President Nicolás Maduro’s government

Karen Palacios blasted the government in a message that went viral after losing her job as top clarinetist in the National Philharmonic. Her mother says a week later two strangers appeared at their home saying the 25-year-old was needed for an interview at the presidential palace.

Instead she was locked up at a military prison accused of violating Venezuela’s hate law, which was passed by lawmakers loyal to Maduro in 2017. It threatens sentences up to 20 years for any message through television, radio or social media that instigates violence or hate. Critics say the government uses the law to crack down on dissent.

Rights groups condemned Palacios’ arrest as an example of the deteriorating human rights situation. A recent U.N. report said that since 2014 more than 15,000 people have been detained for political motives including more than 2,000 this year alone.

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