Afrique Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Colombia31 January 2003

Los Angeles Times journalists should be freed today

The ELN guerrillas said on 30 January that their two journalist hostages would be handed over today to a humanitaran committee, which they asked to be set up. The committee, which was immediately formed, comprises Mgr Arcadio Bernal (Bishop of Arauca), Fr Darío Echeverry (a priest), Eduardo Cifuentes (the ombudsman) and former prosecutor Jaime Bernal Cuéllar. The ELN said the journalists’ release only depended on when the committee arrived in the area.


01/29/03 - Two Los Angeles Times journalists may be freed

The ELN called on 29 January for a humanitarian committee to be set up to arrange for the release of British journalist Ruth Morris and American photographer Scott Dalton and to enable "our version of everything happening in the region" to be given. It said they would be handed over to the committee.

The day before, ELN military commander Antonio García said the journalists would be freed in a day or two and said "the contacts made" would "help the journalists understand our version of the Colombian conflict." However in another statement the same day, the ELN said "political and military conditions to free the journalists are not yet right."


01/24/03 - Two Los Angeles Times journalists kidnapped by guerrillas

Reporters Without Borders today denounced as a "serious attack on press freedom" the kidnapping by Colombian guerrillas of two freelance journalists on assignment for the Los Angeles Times and called on the country’s warring armed groups to stop abusing journalists and the media.

Reporter Ruth Morris, who is British, and US photographer Scott Dalton were seized by the National Liberation Army (ELN) on 21 January near the village of Tame, in the government-declared "rehabilitation zone" in the eastern province of Arauca.

"Such kidnapping of foreign journalists is deplorable and the armed groups must stop targeting journalists, local or foreign, and trying to control the media," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. It was "vital," he said, that the government "ensures the safety of journalists in the current upsurge of violence and thereby the freedom of all Colombians be to be informed."

An ELN statement, broadcast by the clandestine radio station Voz de la Libertad on 23 January, said the two journalists had been kidnapped because they had gone into an ELN-controlled zone without permission. It said they had not sought to interview local guerrilla leaders but would be held in safety and freed "when political and military conditions permit."

The Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Bogota, Thomas Miller, had denied on 22 January that they had been kidnapped as police had said. The pair were on assignment for the paper to cover deployment in the area of 60 US Special Forces troops officially training Colombian army units, he said.

The taxi driver who was with them said after his release by the guerrillas on 22 January that they had been stopped at an ELN roadblock and had then asked to meet with a guerrilla leader. The guerrillas said they would free them after they made a statement to the international media, he added.

The kidnapping came as the Inter-American Press Association on 23 January called Colombia the world’s most dangerous country for journalists, with 114 killed there since 1989.

It also followed the 18 January detention of three US journalists on the northern border with Panama by members of the paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) during clashes between the AUC and guerrillas of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

AUC leader Carlos Castaño said they had not been kidnapped but simply held to protect them from the fighting and would be handed over to a humanitarian organisation. This was done on 23 January, when they were delivered to International Red Cross officials.



In this country
15 May - Colombia
Former intelligence officials leak list of news media and journalists whose phones were tapped
28 April - Colombia
Radio reporter gunned down in Cauca department, probably in connection with his work
27 February - Colombia
Call for inter-american intervention in new phone-tap scandal
27 August - Colombia
Authorities use judicial proceedings to intimidate media
20 June - Colombia
Kidnapped journalist Mario Alfonso Puello released after four months in captivity

in the annual report
Colombia - Annual Report 2008
Colombia - Annual report 2007
Colombia - Annual report 2006


reports
14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press
archives

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Cuba
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Cuba
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro