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Sun May 17, 2020, 06:05 PM

FLIP condemns massive surveillance, profiling of local and international journalists by Colombian ar

FLIP condemns massive surveillance, profiling of local and international journalists by Colombian army

Profiling and surveillance - practices characteristic of authoritarian regimes - contravene the government’s freedom of expression obligations and raise questions about society’s right to information and guarantees for the work of journalists.

This article was originally published at flip.org.co on 1 May 2020.

In response to an article published by Semana magazine, titled ‘Las carpetas secretas’ (‘The Secret Files’), and other information we have gleaned, the Foundation for Press Freedom (Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa, FLIP) states the following:


    1. We emphatically condemn the ongoing and intensifying profiling and surveillance of journalists by state intelligence agencies in Colombia. These practices—which are characteristic of authoritarian regimes—contravene the government’s freedom of expression obligations and raise questions about society’s right to information and guarantees for the work of journalists.

    2. On this particular occasion, profiling and surveillance of journalists by Colombian military intelligence agencies was carried out on a massive scale, and includes some cases of reckless descriptions of journalists as operating outside the law based on interference and evaluations of articles they have written. This represents a dangerous characterisation originating from military evaluation and classification of information that is relevant in a democratic environment, placing it within a wartime context. The profiles created contain both publicly-available and private information, including information about the individual’s families. No prior authorisation was obtained and, as such, the collection and analysis of sensitive portions of the information violates the purpose and principals of the Intelligence Law.

    3. FLIP knows of at least 30 journalists who have been profiled in this manner. To date, information has been collected on María Alejandra Villamizar (Caracol Radio), Juan Forero (The Wall Street Journal), Daniel Coronell (Univisión), Federico Ríos (freelance for The New York Times), Óscar Parra (Rutas del Conflicto), Stephen Ferry (independent), Ginna Morelo (La Liga Contra el Silencio), Yolanda Ruiz (RCN Radio), Ignacio Gómez (Noticias UNO), Lindsay Addario (independent), Nicholas Casey (The New York Times), Jhon Otis (Committee to Protect Journalists and NPR) and a journalist and producer for Blu Radio. The Rutas del Conflicto (Conflict Routes) and La Liga Contra el Silencio (League Against Silence) media outlets have also been profiled.

    4. Defence Minister Holmes Trujillo, the Office of the Attorney General and the current military leadership have all been aware of these actions since at least January 2020. The measures set out by the Defence Ministry to deal with the issue, however, were announced in a statement on social media just a few hours before Semana published its article. (added the following sentence to try to cover off what the Twitter post below says – hope it’s okay): In its statement, the Defence Ministry outlined investigative and disciplinary actions there were being undertaken to deal with activities within the military’s ranks that could contravene the Intelligence Law, in addition to infringing on citizens’ rights and harming the military’s image. Disciplinary actions included mention of 11 officers who would be removed from their posts.

https://ifex.org/flip-condemns-massive-surveillance-profiling-of-local-and-international-journalists/

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