(Bogotá, Colombia) Freddy Muñoz Altamiranda, Venezuela Telesur channel correspondent in Colombia was detained by Security Administration Department (DAS) agents in El Dorado airport in the city of Bogotá, last Sunday, November 19 and charged with rebellion and terrorism.
The Colombian journalist, 35, was about to return to Caracas after attending a training course on audiovisual narrative organized by the state TV station, when immigration authorities informed him he was arrested by the order of prosecutor 5 of Barranquilla who had issued an arrest warrant on November 10. According to what Muñoz was told, he had been investigated during the past four years for allegedly planting dynamite in energy towers in the Atlantic coast.
Muñoz is a journalist, writer and producer known for his work in Universal daily and El Periódico and worked as a reporter for television news program “6:25” in Cartagena, his hometown. He produced documentaries for Tele Caribe, and has been working for almost a year as correspondent in Colombia for Telesur.
His attorney, Tito Augusto Gaitán, spoke to the IFJ Center of Solidarity (Ceso-IFJ) and asked for press freedom groups to intervene in order to avoid having the case transferred to Barranquilla: “There is no guarantee of a transparent investigation” Gaitán said. However, a few hours later the journalist was taken to <city>
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Groups of journalists and human rights organizations gathered to protest outside DAS headquarters in Bogotá, on Tuesday, November 21 at <metricconverter productid="11 a">11 a</metricconverter>.m. Journalists from the Human Rights NGO Minga, sent a letter to the Attorney General’s Office asking for the case to be returned to Bogotá.
“I cannot imagine a journalist’s informative duty alternating with planting bombs”, said Eduardo Márquez, Ceso-IFJ Director. “On behalf of the IFJ, the global organization representing over 500,000 journalists in 120 countries, we call on authorities to carry out an objective investigation as there have been all sorts of abuses committed against colleagues in the name of war against terrorism in Colombia. In the same manner, we join the organizations’ call to transfer the case to Bogotá seeing that incidence of paramilitary activity is well known in the Atlantic coast.
The following are excerpts of a letter written by Freddy Muñóz, sent from the place where he is imprisoned:
“Once again free and critical journalism is attacked by those who insist on resorting to bullying, threats and lies to force it to surrender.”
“This is accusation (of rebellion and terrorism) is lived by hundreds of journalists around the world after US unilateralism decided to accuse of terrorists whoever showed opposition with judgments and arguments (…)”
“Colleagues, from this physical confinement I send my message of thanks to all of you for continuing to risk your life and freedom in this necessary duty (…)”
“How ironic, while judicial agents took my finger prints and presented charges too distant from the reality of my 12 years working in journalism, Colombian television broadcasted a tribute in honor of the sacrificed journalist Jaime Garzón, whose work awoke the rage and intolerance of an evil and stubborn power, stuck inside the institutionalism of our country.”
“A good journalist only knows how to say and promote the truth and in our suffering Latin American countries the truth is the sun that disturbs and diminishes the lords of the shadows.”
“Colleagues and friends, thanks again for raising my voice through yours. For insisting, although those fabrications occur frequently, strength won’t give in. Thank you for teaching me not to give up, because journalism is to make public what does not wish to be disclosed, everything else is propaganda.”