Four hostages released this weekend by Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) said at a press conference on Monday that the leftist guerrilla group had declared the Colombian media a "military target," according to Colombian and international news reports. The statement stirred a heated debate among Colombian journalists over coverage of guerrilla groups.
"We are alarmed by the criminal defamation suit brought by a politically influential family against Alfredo Molano over a column in the daily El Espectador," said Carlos Lauria, CPJ's
senior program coordinator. "Criminally prosecuting a journalist sends a chilling message to all Colombian reporters, and is out of step with the region's growing legal consensus that defamation is a civil not a criminal issue." Americas
Below is a list of Latin American journalists who have signed the petition to free Vázquez Portal
Lista de periodistas latinoamericanos que han firmado la petición para liberar a Vázquez Portal
In a year that saw both an escalation of Colombia's armed conflict and a tentative beginning of peace negotiations, the press found itself in the crosshairs of nearly every party to the increasingly complicated civil war. Five journalists were killed in the line of duty, while scores of others were threatened, attacked, or kidnapped. Colombian journalists, many of whom had tolerated extremely dangerous working conditions for two decades, began leaving the country in unprecedented numbers.