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FLIP report highlights illegal espionage as a major threat to press freedom

Illegal espionage is one of the most serious threats to press freedom in Colombia, says the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) in their 2009 report: "Interceptaciones y seguimientos ilegales: grave intimidación al periodismo colombiano" (Illegal wiretapping and monitoring: The severe intimidation of Colombian journalism).

Last year, journalists uncovered an espionage scheme carried out by the state intelligence agency, says the report. Government agents, who were supposed to be protecting journalists as part of an official protection programme for journalists at risk, were, in fact, spying on them and collecting intelligence. According to FLIP, there are 16 confirmed cases.

FLIP also noted a higher number of press freedom violations in 2009 than in 2008, which resulted in an alarming 258 victims. But the number of attacks by illegal armed groups and paramilitaries has decreased in recent years.

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