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Colombia9 February 2006

Journalist driven out by death threats

Reporters Without Borders expressed dismay after journalist Antonio Sánchez Sánchez, of the daily El Meridiano de Córdoba was forced to leave the north-western city of Montería because of death threats.

He fled the area on 8 February 2006, becoming the third journalist to be driven out in the same way this year.

“In four days, the city of Montería has seen two serious press freedom violations. Journalist Gustavo Rojas Gabalo, who was badly injured in a shooting on 4 February, is still in a very serious condition. The departure of Antonio Sánchez Sánchez follows that of two other journalists forced into exile this year,” the press freedom organisation said.

“The future of the profession in Colombia will be seriously jeopardised if this forced exodus goes on. Once again we urge the Colombian authorities to guarantee the safety of journalists, particularly in the conflict zones”, the organisation said.

His lawyer, María Milene Andrade, said the journalist began receiving telephoned death threats after one of his articles appeared in the El Meridiano de Córdoba, revealing there had been a secret guerrilla incursion into the Rusia regiment, in the Valencia district.

This was denied by the local authorities but confirmed by President Alvaro Uribe.

Sánchez Sánchez also received death threats in 2004 after writing several exposés about corruption and administrative irregularities.



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