Nicaragua deports AFP photojournalist

Nicaragua has deported a Chilean Agence France-Presse photojournalist after detaining him without charges for four days, an official said Saturday.

Hector Retamal was "deported on a TACA flight to Costa Rica," Chilean consul Diego Rivera said. "The charge against him is violating migration law."

Retamal, 37, was arrested Tuesday night near the presidential residence in Managua, police said. He was headed there to cover the meeting of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki.

His deportation followed an appeal by AFP for his release.

"We are worried about our colleague and we demand his immediate release," AFP's Central America director Marcelo Brusa said. "We don't know what he is accused of."

Since Tuesday, Retamal was held incommunicado in the offices of a police unit that handles cases of terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

He had no access to a lawyer and, over the course of the four days could only receive two visits from Rivera. The last was on Thursday evening.

"The detention is illegal," said lawyer Raul Arevalo, who filed an appeal for Retamal's release. "The police have 48 hours to gather the information they need but he remains in custody and no charges have been filed."

The French embassy also took steps to secure his release.

The president of Nicaragua's foreign correspondent's association ACEN, Sonia Gonzalez, asked the presidential spokeswoman and first lady Rosario Murillo to help to "promptly resolve" the situation.

"Our job is to cover journalistic events in Nicaragua and that is what Mr. Retamal was doing Tuesday night," she said in a letter. There has not been a response.