UPDATE: Charges were formally filed against Timothy Tracy in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas over the weekend, including conspiracy, association for criminal purposes and use of a false document.
Timothy Tracy, a 35-year-old West Hollywood filmmaker who traveled to Venezuela to make a film about the country’s political unrest, has been arrested by the Venezuelan government and accused of instigating the divide that has grown in the country following the April 14 presidential election.
On Friday, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents the 28th District, which includes West Hollywood, called on the Venezuelan government to release Tracy, who was arrested Wednesday evening as he prepared to fly out of Caracas.
“Venezuela’s arrest of Tim Tracy, a documentary film-maker on trumped up charges is an unsettling indication that Hugo Chavez’ intolerance of press freedom has survived his death,” Schiff said in a press statement. “The charge, reportedly personally approved by President Nicolas Maduro, that Mr. Tracy is ‘creating violence in the cities of this country,’ is ludicrous on its face.
While Venezuela’s political opposition claims that fraudulent voting led to the election of current president Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuela government has accused the Obama administration of being behind the country’s troubles in preparation for an invasion.
“The gringo who financed the violent groups has been captured,” Maduro said on state television, according to the Washington Post. “I gave the order that he be detained immediately and passed over to the attorney general’s office.”
In a news conference on Thursday, Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez said the government has video evidence that Tracy was channeling money from non-profit organizations to the “extreme right” opposition to “take us to civil war” and that “there is no doubt that he is from an intelligence agency.”
However, in the video the minister references, shot by Tracy, young people joke and mug for the camera, showing no proof of an overthrow plan, according to the Washington Post
Tracey previously produced a Discovery Channel program about terrorism and smuggling across the U.S.-Canada border as well as the History Channel series “Madhouse,” about North Carolina race-car drivers.
The Washington Post cites friends who say Tracy was attracted to Venezuela by his Venezuelan friends at Georgetown, where he studied, and by a Venezuelan girlfriend. Once in the country, Tracy filmed Venezuelan students who were part of the anti-Chavez movement.