Government implicated in phone-tapping as pressure on media continues

first_imgNews Follow the news on Colombia News April 27, 2021 Find out more ColombiaAmericas News Organisation February 23, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Government implicated in phone-tapping as pressure on media continues RSF_en ColombiaAmericas RSF, IFEX-ALC and Media Defence, support FLIP and journalist Diana Díaz against state harassment in Colombiacenter_img Reports 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies May 13, 2021 Find out more Receive email alerts RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America to go further Help by sharing this information The attorney-general’s office yesterday directly implicated four senior intelligence officials and the secretary-general of the president’s office, Bernardo Moreno, in the phone-tapping of journalists and other prominent government critics, a scandal that was first exposed in early 2009.This occurred during the trial of Jorge Noguera, the former head of the intelligence agency known as the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), who is accused of homicide and “links to paramilitaries.” Yesterday’s hearing was also the stage for a damning accusation to be levelled yesterday the DAS itself. “The DAS was the source of the leaflets and pamphlets targeting journalists, unionists and NGOs,” former counter-intelligence chief Jorge Lagos said, referring to campaigns to discredit journalists and others by means of falsified communiqués and videos said to have been issued by the FARC guerrillas.Speaking at his trial, Noguera yesterday also acknowledged for the first time that he passed the results of the phone-tapping to the president’s office. This will increase pressure on the government, which until now has been sticking by its denials of any role in the phone-tap scandal. (See below a Spanish-language video of former DAS secretary-general Gian Carlo Auque testifying at the trial).Watch live video from Colectivo de Abogados en Directo on Justin.tvThese allegations, implicating the highest level of the government in extremely serious violations of freedom of opinion and freedom of information, are likely to have a major impact on the presidential elections scheduled for 30 May, in which the country is still waiting to find out whether President Alvaro Uribe will run for a third term.People are meanwhile wondering whether the decision by the owners of the weekly Cambio to fire its directors, Rodrigo Pardo and María Elvira, and scale back its activities was due solely to economic imperatives. It was Cambio which last year revealed the organised crime links of Guillermo Valencia Cossio, the former public prosecutor in Medellín (Uribe’s home town) and the negotiations between Washington and Bogotá for the installation of seven US military bases in Colombia.Photo: AFP________09.02.2010 – Little progress seen: Journalists still in dangerThe Day of the Journalist that Colombia celebrates today will inevitably be overshadowed by the fact that press freedom is making no progress. Despite government boasts about “successful” measures for protecting the media, endangered journalists insist that they are not any safer and this will not change until the president takes a clear position.Paradoxically, the government has become one of the biggest threats to the media, which continue to suffer from the effects of measures taken by the Department for Security Administration (DAS) – an intelligence agency overseen by the president’s office – which developed a manual for spying, threatening, intimidate and discrediting “troublesome” journalists. The targets of a DAS unit called Strategic Intelligence Group 3 (G-3) included journalists Hollman Morris and Claudia Julieta Duque, who were spied on and threatened and who were the victims of smear attempts. Duque was benefitting from an interior ministry protection programme until she realised her bodyguards were passing information about her on to the DAS.Both say there is nothing to celebrate and a lot to complain about. The prosecutor-general’s department has evidence of the president’s role in spying and reprisals. The DAS received presidential orders to treat critical journalists as the “allies of terrorism.” Documents were found that show that G-3 spied on more than 300 people including journalists critical of the government.As a result of scandals involving the DAS, four of its five chiefs have had to stand down during Uribe’s presidency because of allegations of illegal spying, political persecution and collusion with paramilitary groups (providing them with lists of people to be murdered).These lists included the names of at least 10 journalists, who were seriously affected as result. Morris and Duque say they and their families continue to be in danger. Reporters Without Borders supports their view that only judicial action and a clear directive from the president would be able to improve the security situation for them and their colleagues. Reporters Without Borders calls for a response from the government and for progress in the investigations into serious violations of freedom of expression. A wide range of media, including online media, are affected by censorship. The fact that elections are due to be held soon makes the situation all the more disturbing.Photo : AFP October 21, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

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