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IFJ accuses President Uribe of "reckless and life-threatening" attack on newspaper editor

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 1 March 2007 IFJ media release:

IFJ Accuses Colombian Leader over "Reckless and Life-Threatening" Attack on Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists today protested to the Government of Colombia over public accusations of links with guerrillas made in recent days by President Alvaro Uribe against a newspaper editor and journalist.

The IFJ says that the President's attack on Carlos Lozano, Editor of the weekly VOZ, who is accused of having links with the guerrilla group FARC, are reckless and put the journalist's life at risk from reprisals by extremists.

"There is no foundation for these accusations and none is provided by President Uribe," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary, in a letter to the Colombian ambassador to Belgium. "This is a cynical attempt to intimidate and silence a vocal and eloquent critic of the President's administration and as such constitutes a serious violation of press freedom."

White met with Mr. Lozano and officials of the National Union of Journalists in the UK and Ireland in London recently and discussed efforts to strengthen professionalism and solidarity within Colombian journalism - something the IFJ says is urgently needed given the continuing pressure being felt across the country by media professionals at all levels.

The IFJ believes that the attack by President Uribe "is a potentially reckless and life-threatening attempt to stifle public debate about the actions of the Colombian government" and adds to concerns about Mr. Lozano's safety, a journalist who has already received death threats. The IFJ also notes that President Uribe has in the past made similar accusations against his critics, some of whom are distinguished campaigners for human rights of international reputation.

The Federation has called for a full explanation for this intemperate attack, a public withdrawal of all unsubstantiated allegations and a clear statement from the President that the government will do nothing to prejudice the safety and security of people working in journalism.

For a copy of the letter to Colombian's Ambassador to Belgium, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, see: http://www.ifj.org/pdfs/ColombiaAmbassador010307.pdf

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries worldwide.

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