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Colombia19 March 2007

Threatened radio station news editor forced to flee the country

Reporters Without Borders expressed concern today at the plight of Darío Arizmendi Posada, news editor at Radio Caracol, who was forced to flee the country on 8 March after death threats from an unknown group. The worldwide press freedom organisation noted that seven journalists were last year driven out of their home region or obliged to go abroad after threats from paramilitray groups or armed rebels.

“This latest case shows how much pressure Colombian journalists are under when they do their job and what they have to do to survive,” it said. “We salute the courage of Arizmendi Posada who has decided to fight back and continue presenting his radio programme on Radio Caracol from outside the country.”

The journalist has aired his programme “Seis AM hoy por hoy” for 15 years. His departure from Colombia with his wife was only revealed by the radio station on 16 March and his place of exile is being kept secret.

President Alvaro Uribe has announced a $500,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of those who made the threats.

Radio Caracol has often been the target of attacks. Another of its presenters, Herbin Hoyos Medina, was forced to leave the country on 6 July last year (press release of 10 July) after an ultimatum from a mysterious “Action Front for Justice and Democracy” linked to far-right paramilitary groups. In 2005, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) sabotaged the station’s transmitters and prevented its broadcasting in the south of the country.

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