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Newspaper editor, his family face death threats following articles on drug-trafficker's arrest

(FLIP/IFEX) - Rubén Darío Valencia, editor of the Cali-based daily newspaper "Q'hubo", has been informed of an alleged plot against his life, and is concerned for his safety and for the safety of his family. The threats are apparently in response to reports published in the newspaper about the detention of Olmes Durán Ibargüen, alias "El Doctor", who has been identified by authorities as the head of a drug-trafficking cartel based in Colombia's Pacific region. The articles reported on Durán Ibargüen's 15 June 2007 arrest in Bogotá.

Darío says that he was informed by another member of the cartel that Durán Ibargüen, following his capture, had given orders for the journalist's murder. According to the informant, the cartel leader was annoyed by the reports and suggested that, if the journalist could not be killed, a member of his family should be targeted instead.

On 22 June, El País publishing house, which puts out "Q'Hubo", received various anonymous telephone calls requesting that the managers of the company arrange for the journalist to leave the country within 48 hours.

Durán Ibargüen, who is also known as "Lord of the Pacific" and "Lord of the ports", was captured in an operation organized by the counter-narcotics police and the Attorney General's office, which took place in the cities of Bogotá, Cali and Mosquera; the latter is a municipality in Nariño department in southern Colombia.

According to the authorities, Durán Ibargüen is a member of the drug-trafficking organization run by the infamous Diego Montoya, alias "Don Diego". Durán Ibargüen is accused of managing the drug-trafficking networks in the Pacific region of Colombia, from which some 50 tons of cocaine have been shipped to the US and Europe.

María Elvira Domínguez, editor of Cali's "El País" newspaper, says that the authorities have been asked to protect the journalist and that the newspaper itself has taken precautionary measures.

General Oscar Naranjo, the Director General of the National Police, has assured the newspaper that all appropriate measures to protect the journalist will be taken. The commander of the Cali Metropolitan Police, General José Antonio Gómez Méndez, assured FLIP that members of the journalist's family would also be protected by the police.

To threaten a journalist over his work is a serious attack on freedom of expression and press freedom. FLIP calls upon the authorities to ensure the safety of the journalist and his family.

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