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Teleantioquia Noticias correspondent receives death threats

(FLIP/IFEX) - Since 30 August 2010, Luis Carlos Cervantes, a correspondent for Teleantioquia Noticias, in Tarazá, Antioquia, has been the victim of a series of death threats. In the latest incident on 3 September, he was given 72 hours to get out of the city.

According to Cervantes' report to FLIP, he has received various text messages saying "we're going to kill you" and another that said "if you're looking for those responsible, you are going to die, and your colleagues as well".

Cervantes told FLIP that the news he reports on in Bajo Cauca Antioqueño, which includes Tarazá, is about local government administration. He has been very critical of the management of the mayor's office in Tarazá. He also mentioned that lately he has not reported on news about illegal groups, so does not think the recent threats are associated with them.

Victor Sánchez, editor-in-chief at Teleantioquia Noticias, said that "what has happened is very complicated; we don't know who is responsible for these threats". Sánchez also said that the paper's management has asked authorities to guarantee protection for the journalist and has offered to transfer him to Medellín, but he prefers to stay in Tarazá.

Police Captain Luis Herrera said that local police have been in close contact with Cervantes since reports of the threats were made. The journalist has been assigned a police guard. Herrera also said that he is working with the Attorney General's Office to investigate the origin of the threats.

Teleantioquia Noticias is a regional news outlet that regularly reports on corruption and the poor execution of public works in the various municipalities within Antioquia; this has resulted in threats against some of its correspondents. On 21 July, Juan David Betancourt, a correspondent based in Dabeiba, was threatened and attacked in retaliation for comments he made about the local mayor.

FLIP condemns these threats against Cervantes and expresses its concern over the intimidation tactics that many Teleantioquia Noticias employees have suffered. FLIP also calls on police to continue protecting Cervantes and hopes that the Federal Attorney General's Office will investigate the case and punish those responsible.

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