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Journalist Hollman Morris permanently barred from entering the US

Prominent Colombian journalist Hollman Morris has been denied a visa to the US based on a "terrorist activities" provision of the Patriot Act, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the PEN American Center, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). IFEX members are urging the US to lift the travel ban.

Morris was one of 12 international journalists selected to participate in a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University during the 2010-11 academic year. But on 16 June he was informed by the US embassy in Bogotá that he had been found permanently ineligible for a visa.

"Anti-terrorism laws are a threat to democracy if they can lead to the perverse and shocking victimisation of genuine human rights defenders like Hollman Morris," said IFJ.

Producer of the weekly investigative programme Contravía for the television network Canal Uno, Morris is known for his in-depth coverage of the five-decade civil conflict in Colombia and for being a harsh critic of President Alvaro Uribe Vélez. He has been dismissed by Uribe, high-ranking officials and President-elect Juan Manuel Santos as a supporter of terrorists based on his coverage of the illegal armed actors in the civil conflict.

In March 2009, the Colombian Attorney General's office recovered files showing that Morris had been the target of a campaign by the Colombian Secret Service (DAS) to discredit his work by linking him to FARC guerrillas. According to the documents, strategies pursued against Morris included heavy surveillance, espionage, intimidation, and attempts to persuade the US government to refuse his visa requests.

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