Alternative press defends Colombian journalist accused of guerrilla ties

Several digital media outlets have begun a campaign in support of Colombian journalist Joaquín Pérez Becerra, a Swedish citizen who was extradited from Venezuela to Bogotá for alleged ties to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group.

Sites like Kaosenlared and Aporrea have denounced irregularities in the arrest of Pérez, the director of the New Colombia News Agency (ANNCOL), which they see as an attack on alternative media.

Their aim is to prosecute ANNCOL and the alternative press,” Koasenlared wrote. “Dictatorial regimes need the press and mass media to be in their service and not publish news about the grassroots struggle.”

Aporrea said the Venezuelan authorities would not let the Swedish consul interview the journalist before he was deported to Colombia. Beyond this, the site says the majority of the evidence against Pérez comes from the laptop of deceased FARC commander Raúl Reyes, a computer critics say has been used in the past to manufacture evidence for political purposes.

In an interview with Telesur, Pérez’s lawyer, Ramiro Orjuela, said that his defendant feels like a political prisoner because “he has dissented in his journalistic writing, but has never participated” in any terrorist activity.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.