Colombia's spying against journalists is detailed in new report

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  • December 6, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

Colombia's Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) has released its report “Espionage against journalists" about the campaign by Colombia's intelligence service to smear and spy on several reporters. The report compiles the major breakthroughs on investigations about the case.

The controversy over wiretaps and illegal surveillance of journalists, judges, activists, and politicians during the Álvaro Uribe administration erupted in 2009, after Semana magazine published a report about the eavesdropping. FLIP considers it to be one of the major attacks against press freedom in Colombian history.

To date, five journalists have been confirmed to be targets of espionage, threats, or smear campaigns by the Intelligence Service between 2003 and 2008: Daniel CoronellClaudia Julieta DuqueGonzalo GuillénCarlos Lozano, and Hollman Morris.

Former president Alvaro Uribe has repeatedly denied ordering the spying, but some 40 people and organizations of espionage victims last week sued him for crimes against humanity, EFE reports. Among that group are Duque, Lozano, and Morris.

Judicial and disciplinary investigations have tarnished several of Uribe's collaborators who have complained that former high officials of his government suffer from lack of security. He also said he supported and recommended asylum in other countries for these people.

FLIP's report also outlines several obstacles to access to information about the case. It refers also to the supposedly secret nature of certain judicial hearings.

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.