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Disturbing surveillance of Barrancabermeja journalist couple was preceded by scaling-back of security measures by interior ministry

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 16 February 2008, the bodyguards for Diro Cesar González and his wife, Tatiana Sánchez, the editor and manager, respectively, of the weekly "La Tarde", informed the police that the two journalists were being subjected to surveillance by a group of unidentified individuals. The incident took place in the municipality of La Mesa de los Santos, in Santander, northeastern Colombia, while the journalists were conducting an investigation for their newspaper. The authorities captured two men who claimed they were farmers. The two men were released after being questioned.

González told IPYS that he has been receiving threats since his return to Santander. On 22 November 2007 he received a note along with a 9mm bullet in his office. A month later he received a threatening letter, his wife has received threatening telephone calls and, on 15 February, several individuals loitered around the weekly?s premises for several hours.

The journalist told IPYS that the security detail provided to him by the Ministry of the Interior and Justice Department had recently been modified. Whereas he had earlier been provided with three bodyguards, he now had only two, and the armoured car he had been provided was replaced with another which has broken down three times.

On 19 January 2006, González and Sánchez left Barrancabermeja due to death threats and stayed away for nearly a year. During that time "La Tarde" did not circulate.

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