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Warrant issued for arrest of magazine editor Alejandro Santos

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 27 March 2009 IAPA press release:

Warrants for arrest of Colombian journalists causes concern for IAPA

Miami (March 27, 2009). - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today repeated to the Colombian judiciary its concern at the issuance of warrants for the arrests of two journalists on contempt charges, on the basis that they failed to satisfactorily comply with requirements to publish corrections in cases of libel suits.

The 16th Bogotá Criminal Court in a ruling announced on Wednesday (March 25) for the second time ordered the jailing for three days of the editor of the magazine Semana, Alejandro Santos, on the grounds that he had failed to act on a second order to issue a correction handed down by the Bogotá High Court on September 12, 2008, based on a lawsuit filed by Judiciary Higher Council Judge José Alfredo Araujo Escobar. The judge had claimed to have been offended by an article in which his relationship with an alleged drug trafficker was questioned.

Although Semana clarified the report on two occasions and the Bogotá High Court had ordered the reopening of the proceedings due to "procedural defects", the 16th Criminal Court held that the requirement of a correction had not been complied with in the form and manner that had been ordered, and again issued a warrant for Santos' arrest. The action concerned an item published on April 28, 2008 under the headline "The Patron of the Judiciary."

On another matter, a court in Granada, in Meta Department, on March 18 ordered the arrest of Daniel Coronel, editor of the television news program Noticias UNO, for having refused to issue a second correction in a lawsuit filed by Reinel Gaitán Tangarife, whom the newscast had linked to the illicit drug trade.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, expressed concern and surprise at the arrest warrants, declaring, "What is needed is for the judges to put aside the high rank of the claimant Escobar Araujo in his role as judge of the Judiciary Higher Council so that the rulings may meet constitutional principles of freedom of the press and of expression."

Updates the Santos case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98772

For further information on the Coronel (Coronell) case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/101925

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