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Journalists Hollman Morris, Leonardo Acevado and Camilo Raigozo temporarily detained by army, asked to hand over their work

(FLIP/IFEX) - Journalists Hollman Morris, director of the "Contravía" television programme and a correspondent for foreign media outlets and cameraman Leonardo Acevado and journalist Camilo Raigozo of the weekly "Voz," were temporarily detained and harassed by members of the army who demanded that they hand over their journalistic material.

According to what Morris and Raigozo reported to FLIP, on the morning of 2 February 2009, they were detained at the barracks of the "Héroes de Guapí" army battalion. The soldiers prevented them from going to the municipality of La Unión Peneya, located three hours from Florencia, the capital of Caquetá, in southern Colombia. According to the soldiers, they were not allowed through because they were journalists. A short while later the journalists were allowed though and they continued their research on the liberation of people who had been kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC).

During their research, Morris, Raigozo and Acevedo were constantly followed by members of the army. The journalists decided to alert various human rights organisations to this situation, but had to go to the one place in the town where cellular phones can be used. However, the battalion colonel, whose last name is Martinez - FLIP was not able to fully identify him - came in and ordered the place to be closed. The journalists were detained for a few minutes while Martínez insisted they hand over their work, saying he "had orders from his superiors". They refused to comply with this request and the soldiers continued to supervise and follow them.

According to various sources, it was a call from Public Defender Volmar Pérez to the commander of Army Squad XII, Félix Iván Muñoz, that caused the soldiers to demand that the journalists hand over their work. Muñoz also claimed that he had received orders from his superiors.

Although the journalists were then notified by the army that they could leave, they decided to wait for a civilian escort because they thought they might encounter other risks. Someone from the Ombudsman's Office picked up the journalists and they returned to Florencia.

In reports made to the national media, the secretary of the government of Caquetá, Edilberto Ramón Endo, insisted that Hollman Morris "was not detained, but escorted by the army", and that the soldiers were trying to remove them from the area, but were not able to do so because of security concerns.

FLIP urges the Ministry of Defense to explain the reasons behind the holding of Morris, Raigozo and Acevedo and if there was in fact an order to seize the journalists' work. FLIP also expresses its concern over the recurrence of cases where military authorities are demanding that journalists hand over their work, violating their right to protect their sources.

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