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Journalist repeatedly threatened in Soledad following report on corruption

(FLIP/IPYS/IFEX) - Samit Linero, a journalist with the newspaper "Al Día", reported having been threatened by telephone and harassed, apparently in retaliation for his 18 September 2007 report about a case of alleged corruption.

According to Linero, he received the first threatening calls at home on 18 September. He attributed these threats to supporters of council members implicated in the published report, who are currently campaigning for re-election. On 20 September, one of the journalist's children, who is only 11 years old, received another threatening call. That same day, Linero was approached while near a public market by four people who insulted him and apparently intended to assault him. A policeman who was alerted to the situation by a market vendor came to his protection.

The report that apparently prompted these threats presents evidence demonstrating that in 2005 goods such as electrical appliances and shoes that were intended for donation to the needy, were actually given to Soledad council members belonging to the majority coalition, who supported mayor Rosa Estela Ibáñez at the time. According to the report, the mayor had ordered the goods distributed among these council members.

The report included photographs of council members José Segura, Carlos Cabrera, Vicente Támara and José Florián, who appear on the newspaper's front page, accused of being involved in this scandal. They are all currently campaigning for re-election.

Linero said that he is very worried by these threats against him and his family. He stated that Soledad's police commander has also expressed concern about his security. FLIP and IPYS were unable to confirm this information.

"Al Día" is a tabloid owned by "El Heraldo", and has a wide readership in Barranquilla and several other municipalities of the department of Atlántico.

FLIP and IPYS condemn these threats and express their concern because the threats are related to the elections. They also urge the authorities to provide protection to the journalist and to investigate these incidents in order to identify and punish those responsible.

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