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Journalist repeatedly harassed by police officer in Neiva, prevented from reporting

(IFJ/IFEX) - On 18 May 2008, a police officer interfered with the journalistic work of Diógenes Cadena Castellanos, a correspondent for RCN Televisión television station in Huila. The incident took place in Neiva, located 326 km southwest of the national capital, Bogotá.

Cadena Castellanos was prevented from conducting an interview by sergeant José Manuel Amaya Puentes, who arbitrarily detained the journalist. The same official has previously harassed Cadena Castellanos, according to the Journalists Association of Huila, an affiliate of the Colombian Federation of Journalists (Federación Colombiana de Periodistas, FECOLPER).

Cadena Castellanos was attempting to interview the soccer player Rodrigo Marangoni outside the Neiva sports stadium, but was pushed aside and detained briefly by the police officer. Through the intervention of civilian security guards, the journalist was released but was unable to carry out his assignment.

This is the third time Amaya Puentes has harassed the journalist. In early May, the officer tried to prevent the journalist from covering a concert at the same stadium. The journalist was admitted only after the concert organizers intervened on his behalf.

The first incident occurred six months earlier, when Amaya Puentes first prevented the journalist from entering the stadium for work purposes.

"The case of Diógenes Cadena Castellanos, repeatedly harassed by a police officer, highlights again the issue of abuse of authority. Time after time, we file complaints about such abuse with the appropriate authorities," said Eduardo Márquez, president of FECOLPER and director of the IFJ's Solidarity Center.

FECOLPER represents over 1100 journalists in 19 departments throughout Colombia. IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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