Killing of news vendor in Colombia attempts to silence media, organizations say

The killing of a newspaper vendor in Colombia has alarmed organizations such as the Foundation for Freedom of the Press, FLIP, which suspect the crime intended to silence media outlets and their sources.

José Darío Arenas, the only newspaper vendor of "Extra de Quindío" in the municipality of Caicedonia (southwest of the Valley of Cauca), was shot and killed in the morning of Sept. 28 by unknown men, website HSB News reported.

News on the front page that day denounced alleged irregularities committed by employees of the National Prison Institute, INPEC. After Arenas' death, one of the sources consulted to write the story received a threatening phone call in which he was told "the first one has already fallen," FLIP informed.

Andrés Mauricio Osorio, the reporter that wrote the story, said that Arenas had presented the idea for the article, had helped to contact sources and had taken photographs for the story, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said. On top of being a vendor for the newspaper, Arenas had been collaborating with the publication ever since it stopped having a permanent reporter in the municipality, CPJ added.

According to FLIP, official sources in the region that asked to remain anonymous confirmed that one of the main lines of investigation is considering Arenas' involvement with the story as a possible motive.

FLIP, CPJ and Reporters without Borders called on authorities to find and punish those responsible for the crime.

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.

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