Miami (May 5, 2020) .- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) strongly condemned the espionage perpetrated on national and foreign journalists in Colombia and urged the government to investigate and punish those responsible for this practice reminiscent of the dark moments in Latin American journalism's past.
An investigation by the Colombian magazine Semana revealed that between February and December 2019, military intelligence units spied on more than 130 people, including local journalists, foreign correspondents mainly from the United States, politicians, and human rights lawyers. Those responsible for these acts created detailed profiles of each person, with the names of their contacts, relatives, and places of residence.
In condemning these acts, IAPA President Christopher Barnes, director of The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, Kingston, Jamaica, stated that "in addition to violating the inalienable right to privacy guaranteed to every citizen, these illegal actions corrode the necessary trust between sources and journalists."
Roberto Rock, president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and director of the La Silla Rota portal, Mexico City, said that "illegal interceptions and espionage are not new practices in the region, we have already seen it in many countries, among them in Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela." He added that beyond the risks for journalists, "these acts constitute constitutional violations, so it is important to discourage these practices and bring those responsible to justice."Barnes and Rock urged the government of President Iván Duque to investigate this serious phenomenon in-depth and to guarantee freedom of the press, as established by the Colombian Constitution.
Among the journalists investigated were Nicholas Casey of the New York Times, Jhon Otis of National Public Radio and the Committee to Protect Journalists; Juan Forero of The Wall Street Journal, Federico Ríos, freelance journalist for the New York Times; Daniel Coronell from Univisión, María Alejandra Villamizar from Caracol Radio, Óscar Parra from Rutas del Conflicto, Ginna Morelo from La Liga Contra el Silencio, Yolanda Ruiz from RCN Radio, Ignacio Gómez from Noticias UNO, photojournalist Lynsey Addario and photographer Stephen Ferry.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.