Ceso FIP welcomes release from jail of Telesur correspondent in Colombia

Ceso FIP previously reported the journalist, 36, was captured by agents of the Administrative Security Department (DAS), last November 19, in El Dorado Airport in Bogotá, when he was returning to Caracas after receiving a training funded by a Venezuela state owned TV station, TeleSur. The journalist was charged with dynamiting energy towers during 2002 as militant of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

When Muñoz himself announced to his colleagues of the Atlantic coast he would be released in the afternoon, his attorney, Tito Gaitán said: "When the proceedings were reviewed by the Prosecutor, he considered the evidence was not sufficient to back this type of decision (of capturing Muñoz), therefore he ordered his release but the criminal process is still open.” Gaitán added: “We have to stay alert and observe that there is no type of revengeful attitude from safety organisms that prefabricated this case.”

Muñoz was one of more than 130 journalists who received this new year behind bars in jails around the globe. In his case, intelligence agents of the Presidency of the Republic accused him of using the alias “Jorge Eliécer” and being the leader of the Bolivar Militias of FARC in Cartagena. The evidence was allegedly backed up by testimonies of three former guerilla fighters of the illegal armed group, detained individuals or habitants of the Marine Corps base camp or DAS regional offices, awaiting sentence reduction for thanks to their accusation.

"I cannot accuse people I do not know. I spoke very clearly to the attorney that the “Jorge Eliécer” I know, deserted guerrilla ranks and self defense forces killed him in Ñanguma", declared on November 5, Yainer Rodríguez, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for rebellion and terrorism. The “attorney” mentioned by the former guerilla fighter is the prosecutor who interrogated Rodriguez and according to him, pressured by stating she would ask for a punishment of 30 or 40 years in jail if he does not cooperate.

Other testimonies are highlighted for their incoherence and one particularity: none of the witnesses saw first hand the participation of Muñoz in the attacks he is charged of carrying out. Another witness, for example, assured "Jorge Eliécer" put bombs during 2002 while the he was in jail.

“With the exception of a brief act of harassment by DAS agents who were very upset at Freddy’s release, the authorities have acted as expected in a State of Right”, said Eduardo Márquez, IFJ Center of Solidarity Director. “From the very beginning, the IFJ expressed solidarity to our captured colleague, along with thousands of journalists of our continent who condemned what seemed to be an attempt to silence an independent voice. We welcome the release of Freddy Muñoz. We must now call on the entire community of journalism to protect our colleague, in order to avoid tragedies lived by dozens of Colombian citizens, who have been publicly stigmatized with ‘evidence’ such as the one used against Freddy and their families are currently crying them.”

Center of Solidarity

International Federation of Journalists