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Colombia25 February 2005

Death threats force another journalist to leave northeastern region

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage again today that yet another Colombian journalist has been forced to stop work and flee to another part of the country after being repeatedly threatened. The latest victim is radio journalist Edwin Alberto Moreno Mojica, who had to flee the city of Tame in the northeastern department of Arauca after criticising the mayor.

"This case joins the already overlong list of violations against journalists in Colombia, where nothing seems to be done to ensure their safety and guarantee press freedom," the organization said.

Reporters Without Borders also expressed astonishment at a recent comment by Vice-President Francisco Santos accusing the press of acting as an "echo chamber for terrorism." This comment was "deeply shocking," the press freedom organization said, "especially when Colombian journalists are constantly caught in the crossfire of the army, paramilitaries and guerrillas just for doing their job."

The producer of "Informativo 88.3," a programme on local radio station 88.3 Tame FM Stereo, Moreno gave a lot of coverage to a campaign for the removal of the local mayor. The Foundation for Press Freedom in Colombia said the death threats were directly linked to Moreno’s editorial support for the campaign.

Moreno received an anonymous phone call on 12 January in which he was told, "Shut up or we will shut you up." Two days later he was told in another message: "This is a second warning, the third one will put you in great danger."

On 10 February, Moreno had also called on the Organization of American States (OAS) to establish an office in Tame with the aim of facilitating the demobilization of the paramilitary United Self-Defence Groups of Colombia (AUC), which control the area. The Foundation for Press Freedom in Colombia said Moreno feared that this position had put his life even further in danger.

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