IFJ Calls on United States to Withdraw "Perverse" Bar on Colombian Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today

called on the United States

to lift a travel ban on a leading Colombian journalist who has risked his life

to expose terrorism, warning of a "grave injustice" that may increase the

dangers facing the reporter.

Hollman Morris, who has armed guards to protect him

in Colombia, has been a

fearless reporter of terrorism in the country but he has enraged some of Colombia's

political leaders by his exposure of both right and left wing links with

terrorist groups.

Now, in a bizarre reading of American anti-terrorism

law, he has himself been dubbed "a terrorist" and consequently refused a visa

to enter the United States where he was due to take up a distinguished Neiman

Foundation fellowship with Harvard University last month.

"Anti-terrorism laws are a threat to democracy if

they can lead to the perverse and shocking victimisation of genuine human rights defenders like Hollman

Morris," said Aidan White, IFJ

General Secretary.  "This ban must be

lifted and the rules must be revised to end the negative impact of

anti-terrorism rules on legitimate journalism."

Last year the Colombian Attorney General's office

recovered files showing that Morris was a target of the Colombian secret

service, the DAS, which itself has proven close links with paramilitaries. DAS

strategies against Morris and other human rights defenders include personal

harassment, intimidation, campaigns to discredit him by linking him to the FARC

and to persuade the US

to refuse his visa requests.

Outgoing President Uribe accused him of being an

‘ally of terrorism' following his presence at the release of FARC hostages in

February 2009. Morris claimed he was there to make a documentary for the

History Channel on kidnapping, that he had not known the kidnappers would be

released and he never broadcast the film the FARC made him take of the release.

An investigation by the Colombian Attorney General's office cleared him of the


It was the Inter American Commission on Human Rights that

persuaded the Colombian government to provide Morris with bodyguards following

numerous death threats for this work.

The IFJ is

calling on its affiliates around the world to write letters of protest to

the United States State Department over the ban.

For more

information, contact +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents

over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide