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Staff of television news programme harassed for reporting on bridge construction

(FLIP/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 9 August 2007 FLIP statement:

Employees of the "Noticias Uno" television programme have faced some harassment as a result of an investigative report. The report concerned the building of a bridge near a farm owned by President Álvaro Uribe Vélez. The president reportedly stood to gain from the project.

According to newspaper director Daniel Coronel, President Uribe became aware of the matter and called Coronel on the telephone to berate him.

Journalist Ignacio Gómez stated that while he was working on the story he was stopped three times by the police and once by an unidentified individual. "The man started asking me for my parents' names and other personal information that would compromise my safety," the journalist added. Gómez is the head of research at "Noticias Uno" and the current vice-president of FLIP's board of directors.

Gómez was actually accused by various media of dismissing two journalists in connection with the story. However, he denied this, explaining to FLIP that "I had asked journalist Candelaria Roca and freelance camera operator Rafael Chica to obtain the necessary footage for the story. After they refused, I traveled to Montería to obtain the information myself." Gómez added that no one was dismissed: Chica is not an employee of the television station, and Roca continues in her usual position. Roca also informed FLIP that she "never claimed to have been fired."

Journalists do not need to seek permission to report on public places such as town squares, bridges and roads. FLIP is concerned about the harassment and intimidation tactics Gómez is facing from the police.

Latest Tweet:

#HONDURAS | el @RSF_inter denuncia graves ataques a periodistas del departamento de Colón https://t.co/4Z4oMKMkfc @clibre

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