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Colombia10 September 2004

Concern about repeated threats to journalist probing murder case

Reporters Without Borders expressed "great concern" today about repeated "serious threats" to a freelance journalist, Claudia Julieta Duque, who has accused Colombia’s intelligence service, the DAS, of interfering with the investigation of the 1999 murder of journalist and satirist Jaime Garzón.

It urged the state prosecutor to make a rapid and thorough enquiry to find out where they were coming from, as a way to protect her.

"She has asked the local prosecutor to look into the threats but he appears to have lost the case file," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "We fear the threats may be linked to her enquiries into the Garzón murder."

Duque has frequently been followed, harassed and threatened in recent years and such activity has sharply increased in the past few days. She received several anonymous phone calls on 7 and 8 September and managed to record some of them.

She complained about the threats to the human rights office of the national police, which considered them very alarming. She supplied the registration numbers of vehicles that had followed her. But when the national Press Freedom Foundation, FLIP, asked the prosecutor’s office about how the investigation was going, it said it had no information on the case.

The threats to Duque began in 1999, when she began looking into irregularities in the official investigation of the Garzón case, with whose prosecution Reporters Without Borders is officially associated.

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