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Thu May 23, 2019, 02:58 PM

Colombia's army accused of 'hunting' NYT sources who leaked order to double combat kills and capture

Source: Colombia Reports

by Adriaan Alsema May 23, 2019

Human Rights Watch and several journalists said on Wednesday that the Colombian military is trying to find out who “told the truth” to the New York Times about a new military instruction that could seriously endanger civilians.

Caracol Radio journalist Gustavo Gomez revealed that military commanders had been ordered to go to the 2nd Division headquarters under various pretexts, only to be interrogated about who among them had spoken to the American newspaper, New York Times

. . .

Lie detector tests?
Newspaper El Espectador said that Gomez’ claim was confirmed by “highly credible sources,” who were asked to “confess” which commanders had talked to the New York Times and were even subjected to a lie detector test.

The Americas Director of Human Rights Watch has subsequently asked Defense Minister Guillermo Botero whether it is true that 15 commanders had been summoned and stressed that the situation “would be serious if there were to be retaliations for officials who tell the truth.”

Read more: https://colombiareports.com/colombias-army-accused-of-hunting-down-nyt-sources-who-leaked-army-order-to-double-combat-kills-and-captures/

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2019, 04:05 PM

1. I'm not sure what the point of this OP is. Of course the military wants to know who leaked

their plan. At the very least, they would put pressure on the government not to allow that reporter back in the country. Is that ethical? No. is it surprising? No, it would be expected. The term "hunted" could imply they have a contract out to kill the reporter. Is that the case?

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Response to Nitram (Reply #1)

Thu May 23, 2019, 05:03 PM

2. Colombia has been one of the most lethal places for journalists off and on for years.

Reporters being interviewed admitted they "self-censored" to keep from antagonizing government officials for a very long time, prominent journalists, if they remained in Colombia, have bought bullet proof cars at horrendous expense, and hired bodyguards for themselves and family members, while the ones who just wanted to get by have just whitewashed their own articles whenever dealing with government matters.

Here's one astonishing political assasination I never will forget:

Who Killed Jaime Garzón?

Document Points to Military/Paramilitary Nexus in Murder of Popular Colombian Comedian

Garzón Had Been "Deeply Troubled" by Meeting with Senior Army Officer

Ongoing Impunity in 12-year-old Case Spurs Inter-American Commission Complaint

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 360

Posted - September 29, 2011

Washington, D.C., September 29, 2011 - Twelve years after the assassination of beloved Colombian journalist and political satirist Jaime Garzón, a newly-declassified State Department cable, published on the Web today by the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org), supports longstanding allegations that Colombian military officials ordered the killing. Written just days after the murder, the cable from the U.S. Embassy in Colombia says that Garzón “had been killed by paramilitaries in league with ‘loose cannon’ active or retired members of the security forces.”

One of Colombia's most popular television personalities, Garzón was also a high-profile advocate for government talks with leftist rebel groups when he was gunned down on August 13, 1999. Carlos Castaño, top leader of an illegal right-wing militia known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), was convicted in absentia of masterminding the plot in 2001 but was never brought to justice and is now presumed dead. Castaño remains the only individual ever sentenced in the case, though the involvement of Colombian security forces has long been suspected.

The document published today is among key evidence cited by lawyers representing Garzón's family who are seeking to hold the Colombian state responsible for his murder. Last month, human rights attorneys from the Colectivo de Abogados “José Alvear Restrepo” and the Comisión Colombiana de Juristas jointly requested a hearing on the Garzón case before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR).

Of particular interest in the newly-declassified cable is the revelation that retired general Rito Alejo del Río Rojas may have lied in a 2001 declaration before Colombian prosecutors when he denied that he had ever met Garzón. Quite the contrary, the embassy report says that Del Río “upbraided” Garzón when the two met to discuss his efforts to restart peace negotiations with the ELN guerrilla group. The embassy’s confidential source said that Garzón "came away from the meeting very troubled by the depths of the anger that Del Río vented."


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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #2)

Thu May 23, 2019, 11:08 PM

3. True. "One of the most..." Do you really think they can murder a NY Times journalist with impunity?

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Response to Nitram (Reply #3)

Fri May 24, 2019, 11:12 AM

4. yes.

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #4)

Fri May 24, 2019, 09:03 PM

6. Not unless the journalist is still in Colombia.

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Response to WhiteTara (Reply #4)

Sat May 25, 2019, 08:16 AM

8. Who doesn't remember Daniel Pearl, from the New York Times, and Jamal Khashoggi?

These are simply two prominent, conspicuous, politically explosive assassinations.

Of course there are others who get nailed outside their own countries.

Thank you, White Tara.

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Response to Nitram (Reply #1)

Fri May 24, 2019, 11:27 AM

5. the more people know about it

the harder for them to retaliate against the source.

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Response to KayF (Reply #5)

Sat May 25, 2019, 08:18 AM

9. True. The political assassins would prefer no one knows. That's why they bother to sneak around. n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat May 25, 2019, 08:12 AM

7. Article on Colombia's war against journalists, from last year:

Colombian journalists say death threats reflect 'ugly' climate since presidential election
This article is more than 9 months old
Journalists say ‘dangerous new atmosphere’ has emerged since Iván Duque, a fierce opponent of the peace process, won election

Ed Vulliamy

Sat 28 Jul 2018 03.00 EDT Last modified on Sun 29 Jul 2018 09.30 EDT

Prominent Colombian journalists have warned that a string of death threats over their coverage of the country’s peace process reflects an “ugly and dangerous new atmosphere” in the country since the election of its new president.

María Jimena Duzán of the weekly magazine Semana was threatend on Twitter with a message urging she be “raped, spat upon, chopped up with a chainsaw and hung in the Plaza de Bolívar” – the main square in the capital, Bogotá.

Minutes after the threat was sent, the account which posted it and the IP address were closed.

Duzan said threats to her and other journalists have escalated since the election of conservative Iván Duque, a protégé of former president Álvaro Uribe – who viscerally opposes the peace deal with the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the Farc. Duque, who will be sworn in on 7 August, has vowed to “overhaul” the peace accord.

Threats were also made against Jineth Bedoya Lima of El Tiempo newspaper, and Yolanda Ruiz, Jorge Espinosa and Juan Pablo Latorre of RCN radio.

Threats were also sent to La Silla Vacia – a website service reporting on the peace process brokered by the outgoing president Juan Manuel Santos.

Bedoya and Silla Vacia both received leaflets declaring them as “military objectives” and signed by the “Black Eagles” – a name often used by the country’s far-right paramilitary groups.

Duzán’s sister Silvia, also a journalist, was murdered by paramilitaries in 1990 while making a documentary for Britain’s Channel 4 on peasant organisations working for peace.

Her killers have never been brought to justice aColombian authorities said they found the bodies in the southwestern city of Tumaco, according to El Comercio.

Army special forces and a special hostage unit found the remains of four people and that sources said the bodies had several garments the journalists wore in a video released shortly before their deaths, according to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo. The paper cited sources as saying the bodies were found, with the help of dogs, in pits in a minefield in a dense jungle area.nd her case became a symbol of the impunity which has characterized attacks on the country’s journalists and activists.


~ ~ ~

Three bodies found in Colombia could be Ecuadoran journalists who went missing and were killed near border
By Teresa Mioli

Three bodies that could belong to two Ecuadoran journalists and a driver for newspaper El Comercio were found in Colombia, 88 days after the team was abducted near the border of the two countries.

. . .

On April 11, a statement signed by the Oliver Sinisterra Front announced that the men were dead. The statement said that the Colombian and Ecuadoran governments “had not wanted to save the lives of the three hostages,” carrying out military operations near where they were being held. Ecuadoran Minister of the Interior César Navas said the country was not holding offensive operations in the border region where the group was abducted and had asked the Colombian government to refrain from carrying out operations that would affect the hostages’ lives, Infobae reported at the time.

Moreno confirmd their deaths on April 13.

Despite a public outcry to bring the bodies back to Ecuador, often spread on social media with the hashtag #NosFaltanTres (We’re Missing Three), and offers from humanitarian groups to retrieve the bodies, the bodies were never returned home.

On June 15, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) held the first working meeting of the Special Monitoring Team, along with relatives of the journalists and members of the Ecuadoran state and civil society. Among the many aims is to investigate the abduction of the journalists and to fight any negative effects the case may have on freedom of expression in Ecuador, Fundamedios reported. The team planned to go to Colombia in July to begin investigations, it added.


~ ~ ~

August 3, 2018
Day of the Journalist: Colombia’s journalists need more protection

Yesterday’s victims, local newspaper editor Jairo Alberto Calderón Plazas and local radio host Valentín Rúa Tezada, were slain in separate shooting attacks in the western Cauca Valley.

The threats and deadly violence have come at a time of marked political polarization during the transition from outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos to President-elect Iván Duque, who will take office on 7 August. There has been a surge in attacks and intimidation attempts by the paramilitary armed groups still present in many parts of Colombia, which have stepped up their harassment of human rights defenders, union leaders and journalists regarded as problematic.

Jineth Bedoya, a well-known journalist who is deputy editor of the daily El Tiempo, and journalists with La Silla Vacía, a news website,were among those on a hit-list signed by a far-right paramilitary group called the Bloque Central de Las Águilas Negras that was circulated on 14 July.


~ ~ ~

Attacks and bodyguards: The price of being a Colombian journalist
Leiderman Ortiz, founder of La Verdad del Pueblo newspaper, has survived several attempts on his life.

by Mathew Di Salvo
15 Jan 2019

Caucasia, Colombia - Leiderman Ortiz's mother, sister, brother and nephew were visiting him in Caucasia in May 2010 when a loud blast went off outside the house where they were asleep.

"I jumped out of my bed and started shouting, 'Stay down, don't move'," Ortiz said.

"My poor mother was screaming. She was terrified."

Unlike many others who have been targeted by the regular grenade attacks in Caucasia, a small city about 670km north of the Colombian capital Bogota, Ortiz isn't a criminal. He writes about them. And the 2010 attack was the third of at least five known attempts or suspected attempts on the 45-year-old's life.

The first occurred in 2009 in Medellin when he was leaving an office and an armed individual was waiting for him. Ortiz saw the individual and called the police. The next year, the 2010 grenade attack occurred. Two days after that attack, another grenade was thrown into his garden. The following year, at least two suspected hitmen were paid to follow Ortiz, but his security team prevented any attacks.

. . .

. . .

Whether Ortiz is chasing a story or shopping, he is always accompanied by his security team and travels in a blacked-out bulletproof 4X4, followed by another car.

Ongoing dangers
The dangers Ortiz faces are common for journalists throughout Colombia, which ranks eighth on the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) Global Impunity Index. The index examines the 14 countries where more than 82 percent of the perpetrators in the murders of 324 journalists have gone unpunished.

Ortiz travels with four bodyguards everywhere he goes [Mathew Di Salvo/Al Jazeera]


~ ~ ~

United States, under Patriot Act, tried to prevent Colombian journalist from entering the US:

Hollman Morris, labeled 'terrorist,' finally Harvard-bound
By Frank Smyth/Washington Representative and Journalist Security Coordinator on July 27, 2010 4:35 PM ET

For a month, U.S.
officials in Bogotá told Colombian journalist Hollman Morris that his request for a U.S.
visa to study at Harvard as a prestigious Nieman
Fellow had been denied on grounds relating to terrorist activities as
defined by the U.S. Patriot Act, and that the decision was permanent and that there were no grounds for appeal. It was the first time in the storied history
of the Nieman
Foundation that a journalist had been prohibited from traveling not by his
own nation, such as, say, South Africa’s apartheid regime back in 1960, but by
ours, noted
Nieman Curator Bob Giles in the Los Angeles Times.

A coalition of groups including the Nieman Foundation, Human Rights Watch, CPJ, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma (where Morris was also a fellow), the Open Society Institute, the Knight Foundation, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, the Inter-American Press Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, PEN American Center, the Washington Office on Latin America, and the North American Congress for Latin America rallied to Morris’ defense, publicly and privately imploring U.S. agencies to reverse the decision. Last week, the multilateral Organization of American States also asked the State Department to grant Morris the visa.

Morris wrote this afternoon in an e-mail to the above groups: “I just got out of the U.S. Embassy and they gave me the visa.” He went on: “I am very happy, and I know none of this would have been possible without you.”

CPJ and other groups are happy, too. Although the month-long denial of the visa raises questions that remain unanswered. Such as: Did U.S. officials accept information provided by their Colombian counterparts without independently verifying the claims? Did U.S. officials follow Colombia’s lead by (albeit temporarily) red-baiting one of Colombia’s most respected and critical journalists?

After news of the U.S. visa denial broke in Colombia, more than a few callers on radio and television talks threatened Morris’ life saying the U.S. decision was confirmation of his alleged “terrorist” ties.

This is a charge has been levied against Morris before, by Colombian officials as high-ranking as President Alvaro Uribe, who has accused Morris of being “an accomplice of terrorism” over his reporting of the Colombia’s leftist guerrillas. But human rights groups suspect that senior Colombian officials have really lashed out at Morris over his reports on rightist paramilitary forces linked to senior Colombian government officials. At the same time, Morris was one of the Colombian journalists who was spied on and had phone calls and e-mails intercepted by Colombia’s Department of Administrative Security under the Uribe administration.


~ ~

Video’s accusation raises alarm in Colombia
April 4, 2006 12:00 PM ET

. . .

In May 2005, Morris and two other well-known Colombian journalists received burial wreaths with cards expressing “sincere condolences.” Morris also received telephone death threats, but an investigation by the attorney general’s office reported no progress.

The next month, when Morris was reporting for a BBC documentary, Colombian president Álvaro Uribe accused the journalist of being linked to the FARC in an interview with W Radio. Uribe later issued a retraction.

As a result of the threats against Morris, the Administrative Department of Security, the national intelligence service, has provided the reporter with a permanent police escort, a bullet-proof vest, and an armored car.

Perceived ties to leftist guerrillas, government security forces, or paramilitary groups can put Colombian journalists at great risk. CPJ research shows that journalists have been threatened, attacked, and murdered for apparent links to armed actors in the Colombian civil war.

The new accusations could also be used to discredit Morris’ reporting on human rights abuses.


~ ~

Early article on journalist Hollman Morris:

Colombian journalism in jeopardy

Colombia's journalists are increasingly unwilling to challenge authority, as digging too deeply could cost them their lives, says Hollman Felipe Morris, a Colombian documentary film-maker. Interview:

Hélène Mulholland

Thu 3 Nov 2005 04.52 EST First published on Thu 3 Nov 2005 04.52 EST

It was a May afternoon when Hollman Felipe Morris received a wreath and condolences announcing his death, despite being in good health.

Morris, a documentary film-maker and presenter of a weekly Colombian current affairs programme, knew his TV critics meant business.

For the past six months, he has lived under 24-hour protection flanked by four bodyguards to avoid becoming another statistic. Aside from kidnappings and beatings, 54 Colombian journalists have been assassinated in the past 10 years, the majority of which have never been investigated.

What troubles the 37-year-old Colombian most is that journalists, keen to live to see another day, increasingly cope by sticking to what Morris calls "officialism". Quality journalism is suffering, he says.

"Journalists are not diverting away from the government line on any issue. Ninety-five per cent of journalists only use official government statistics and information for their reports", he says, citing a recent survey conducted in Colombia by the Network of Free Press (a Colombian press freedom organisation).

"It means certain issues, such as investigating corruption, are not touched on at all."

The International Federation of Journalists ranks Colombia as the most dangerous country in the world after Iraq in which to operate as an independent journalist.


~ ~ ~

Colombia stepping on press freedoms, especially among foreign journalists

September 27, 2018 Megan Janetsky
Reporting & Editing
Correction: This story has been modified to remove sections about Colombian newspapers and their operational practices that the Colombian press association disputed.

It was in June that Freek Huigen, a journalist in Colombia, was faced with a choice: leave the country he’d called home for years or stay illegally.

The Dutch sports reporter has lived in the South American country for six years, and worked on an independent reporter’s visa for three. But when Huigen went to get that visa renewed, he said Colombian immigration authorities told him, “Well, you can't.”

“My first thought was, 'What do I do now?' " he said.

In December, the South American country implemented what it called “simplified” migratory rules. In actuality, it made it nearly impossible for foreign journalists to renew or receive visas that allow them to work in the country.

. . .

In the years leading up to 2018, Colombia was becoming a safer place for reporters. But the June election of President Ivan Duque, a politician who campaigned against the country’s ongoing peace process, brought with it a jump in violence against reporters.

Journalists, social leaders and opposition politicians have received waves of threats, many sent by the right-wing extremist group, Aguilas Negras, which said they would “exterminate” opposition to Colombia’s new government. Around the same time, two environmental journalists were forced to flee the country after they received months of threats.


~ ~ ~

Regarding whether or not Colombian assassins can follow and kill political enemies outside the US, it should be good to be aware that the paramilitaries (death squads) in Colombian have always been directly connected to the Colombian government and military, and they have even chased down witnesses in protection programs to the most northern reaches of Canada, where the witnesses against right-wing Colombian government criminals thought they were well-hidden, or hoped they were. They go EVERYWHERE.

If you want to know more, it's certainly available for anyone who wants to invest personal time in researching.

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