Underrättelsetjänsten hotar medier
Three years after an on-the-spot investigation into paramilitaries (“Paramilitary ‘black eagles’ poised to swoop down on press”), a Reporters Without Borders delegation went back to Colombia from 10-16 May 2010 chiefly to probe a witch-hunt carried on during President Alvaro Uribe’s two terms in office against critics of the government and its “national security” project.
Among those targeted, from what is known so far of the official investigation, were 16 journalists working for around a dozen media. It is the results of this investigation that we are releasing today, 27 May 2010, three days before the first round of the presidential election to choose Uribe’s successor.
Far from limiting itself to phone-tapping (chuzadas), the scandal extended to tailing individuals, acts of sabotage and intimidation often hatched by those who were supposed to be protecting journalists under threat, combined with “black propaganda” vilifying opposition figures as “enemies of the state”.
The case has thrown into question the future of the country’s top intelligence service, the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), identified as being behind these practices. It also reaches into the presidency, whose incumbent did not hesitate to make public accusations against journalists, even though it made their position even more precarious. The scandal continues to echo today in a tense election campaign played out against the legacy of the Uribe years.
Journalists, media editors, press freedom defenders, and election observers have all pieced together the truth of what happened as witnesses or victims. The organisations involved also managed to get access to the current director general of the DAS, Felipe Muñoz.