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Colombia23 September 2005

President intervenes in case of threats against three journalists

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about death threats against radio RCN news director Juan Gossaín, Cambio magazine editor Mauricio Vargas and W de Radio Caracol news director Julio Sánchez Cristo, which prompted President Alvaro Uribe to contact each them in turn to say he was giving them special protection.

“We are pleased that President Uribe intervened personally but we would like to see the measures taken in these particular cases being applied more systematically to threatened journalists and we remind the president that Colombia continues to be one of Latin America’s most dangerous countries for the press,” the organisation said.

The threats were made in an anonymous phone call received by Gossaín on 20 September. Referring to Vargas and Sánchez Cristo as well as Gossaín, the caller said: “If you and the other journalists continue to talk about what is happening in Cartagena, you should expect to suffer the consequences.” He was alluding to reports of municipal election rigging in the northern city of Cartagena.

Gossaín reported the threat on the air, announcing that he considered himself warned and accepted the consequences of his actions.

President Uribe personally contacted the police chief, Gen. Jorge Daniel Castro, and ordered him to investigate the threats. He also contacted each of the journalists yesterday to assure them of his support and intention to “reinforce the protection of the journalists so that they can continue working.”

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