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
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.
information, contact +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents
over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide