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Colombia15 July 2005

Local TV director flees region after attack, threats

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today that Julián Alberto Ochoa Restrepo, the director of the TV station AUPAN in the town of Andes (in the northwestern department of Antioquia), fled the region on 13 July after being followed and after being wounded in a shooting attack in May.

"We understand the dangers to which Ochoa was exposed and which made him flee the region, and we are worried by this forced exile, which represents another serious blow to press freedom and the right to information in Colombia," the organisation said.

Ochoa decided to flee after realising he was constantly been followed and watched by unidentified individuals. Previously, on 23 May, he was shot in the throat and in an arm by a gunman who forced his way into a classroom in Andes where Ochoa was teaching a course. Ochoa was able to fend off his assailant and run out of the classroom.

After the shooting attack, he abandoned his home and family and went into hiding. He contacted Reporters Without Borders at the time and said: "I am in hiding. The danger is constant. The authorities are doing nothing and I doubt they would make any move against those in positions of power who are behind these threats. I have had to abandon my family, my fiancee and everything I own."

The threats to Ochoa are thought to have been the result of his working with a national news media journalist on article about corruption in his region. Ochoa said his predecessor at the head of AUPAN was murdered in still unclear circumstances.

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