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Venezuela: Police Seize Protester Mobile Phones

Several people have reported that police and National Guard officers are seizing the mobile phones of protesters and detainees in Venezuela. As Venezuela reaches its fifteenth day of protests in the streets, protesters believe police are reviewing their personal information, erasing pictures and video of the protests and sending messages to their families and friends. José Vicente Haro, a Venezuelan lawyer and law professor working to defend the detained students, tweeted:

Detainees in CICPC have been taken away their cell phones [by the police] and [they] said they will return them on Monday. They are reviewing the information on their phones.

Since last week there have been reports that policemen are using the students’ cellphones to send prank messages to their friends and family. Eduardo Lischinsky, a student who has been participating in the demonstrations, said:

They're using the cellphones of the detained students to prank friends and family who are trying to reach them.

Mary Mena, an investigative reporter who has been following the detentions, also said that at least two journalists were detained and that the National Guard took their cellphones:

Journalist @JPBIERIL and @perezvaler17 were detained and the GN took their cell phones. Watch out @espaciopublico @ipysvenezuela

After talking with relatives of the detained, journalist LuisCarlos Díaz posited that the police and National Guard were not only holding the phones to make jokes, but also to erase photos, videos, and other evidence of protests:

Another repressive measure in Venezuela is taking away the phones of detained to erase pictures, videos and review personal information.

Amid the protests and with censored media, Venezuelans have turned to the Internet to share photos, video and information on the demonstrations and their subsequent repression. Protesters in the Chacao district of Caracas streamed video of one of the most violent area protests, which had been viewed by 230,225 people as of February 18.

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