Safety Restrictions Ordered against TeleSur Correspondent in Colombia

The specialized third prosecutor of Barranquilla, ordered last Thursday, safety restrictions against journalist Freddy Muñoz Altamiranda, TeleSur correspondent in Colombia, detained on November 19 under charges of alleged rebellion and terrorism.

The journalist’s defense attorney assured this decision was made based on inconsistent testimonies of professional whistleblowers that have been part of the Colombian military intelligence for more than four years.

Freddy Muñoz was captured in El Dorado airport in the city of Bogotá, when he was returning to Caracas after receiving a training funded by a Venezuela state owned TV channel. Despite multiple requests to keep the journalist in the capital, Muñoz was transferred to Barranquilla on November 21, to be questioned by the appointed prosecutor of the Administrative Security Department (DAS), Manuel Molano. Molano assures the colleague is member of the 37 front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), operating in the Colombian Atlantic coast.

Muñoz is also accused of allegedly participating in terrorist attacks in Cartagena and Barranquilla in 2002, according to reported testimonies of three former guerilla fighters and intelligence reports of the Caribbean Marine Forces.

Informants reportedly assured the journalist participated in three dynamite attacks and as a result of one, had scars on his face and burns on his body. This version was ruled out after a forensic medical evaluation was performed, and according to observers, this proves the his innocence.

On November 30, Muñoz sent a letter asking to not be transferred to the city of Cartagena, as was initially reported, explaining once he was there, his right to life was not guaranteed nor his right to fair treatment and procedures.

Last week, more than four hundred journalists sent a letter to the President of the Republic, the Attorney General of the Nation and the Ombudsman demanding an investigation be carried out following the established legal procedures.

IFJ Center of Solidarity Director, Eduardo Márquez, said: “What calls everyone’s attention is the speed and diligence of investigation organisms in this case. If they acted with the same impulse in cases of crimes against journalists, we wouldn’t have over our heads this terrible impunity which has reached 99% of the cases.

Among the journalist community there is a reasonable doubt on the culpability of Freddy, especially for those who know him well and due to how trials against innocent journalists accused of terrorism, based in testimonies of informants seeking economic rewards, are frequent here. Also, it must be highlighted, former DAS Director is currently charged of having links with paramilitaries, electoral fraud and illicit enrichment.”

Center of Solidarity
International Federation of Journalists