Award-winning journalist Hollman Morris speaks to the Knight Center about his decision to return to Colombia, despite the risk

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  • February 6, 2012

Award-winning Colombian journalist Hollman Morris, a former Harvard University Nieman Fellow, has decided to return to his home country "despite having received several threats," he said in an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

Morris accepted an offer from the mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, to run the public television broadcaster Canal Capital, reported the EFE news agency.

Morris explained that the offer "has upset the most intolerant sectors of Colombian society and supporters of ex-President Álvaro Uribe." He added that Canal Capital had been the target of sabotage, which the broadcaster denies, reported the newspaper El Espectador. The mayor and Morris have interpreted this as a "threat against my assuming management of Canal Capital," said the journalist.

During President Uribe's term in office, Morris, a defender of human rights and recipient of several awards for his reporting, was spied on by the Colombian Administrative Department of Security, according to EFE.

Morris explained that he plans to return to Colombia at the end of February or early March. "The mayor publicly requested protection for me," he said. Despite the threats and campaign to discredit him, Morris said, "We've talked and we've decided to move forward with this project."

The newspaper El Tiempo reported that Morris only requests that his basic security be assured.

Morris said he was accepting the position because "it's a challenge in my professional career." He also said that he has always dreamed of television "in the service of the people, in the service to the rest, that is popular and shows that television in Latin America isn't only about distraction, but an instrument for development."

Colombia struggles with one of the lowest freedom of expression scores in Latin America, according to Reporters Without Borders' 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index. Morris said, "Killings and threats are not the only things that harm freedom of expression. Colombia also lacks diverse media."

"We're going to expand the horizons of democracy in Bogotá and across the country," Morris said. "We're moving forward."