Colombian journalist accused of having ties to FARC sentenced for conspiracy

By Liliana Honorato

A Colombian judge sentenced a journalist for the crime of conspiracy, punishable with up to 18 years in prison, claiming the journalist had connections to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish), reported Europa Press.

Colombian journalist and Swedish citizen Joaquín Pérez Becerra, director of the New Colombia News Agency, which releases news and information from the FARC, was acquitted on the charges of financing terrorist activities, added the newspaper El Tiempo.

Pérez had been extradited to Colombia from Venezuela in April 2011 after being accused by the Colombian government of having ties to the FARC. According to the AFP, the journalist "has always denied belonging to the guerrilla and assures that he is dedicated to journalism."

The journalist's lawyer, Rodolfo Ríos, said they would appeal the decision before the Superior Court of Bogotá, arguing that the Attorney General's evidence was "mistaken," referring to e-mails found on the computer of FARC leader Raúl Reyes, who was killed by police in March 2008, reported the Associated Press.

In September 2010, journalist William Parra Jaimes was also accused of having ties to the FARC after the Colombian prosecutor inspected Reyes' computer but in April 2012, the arrest warrant for the journalist was allowed to expire after two years.

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.