Jaime Garzón

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New York, June 30, 2010—A former deputy director of the national Colombian intelligence agency has been ordered held for masterminding the 1999 murder of journalist Jaime Garzón. José Miguel Narváez is currently behind bars awaiting trial in a separate case.

Top Developments
• Provincial journalists face threats from all sides in civil conflict.
• Convictions gained in one journalist murder; progress reported in other cases.

Key Statistic
2003: Year that national intelligence agents began spying on journalists and other critics.


The strained relationship between the government and the Bogotá-based independent press worsened after news media revealed that the national intelligence agency had been spying on leading critics, including journalists. The press continued to be caught in the middle of the ongoing civil conflict as officials made loaded accusations and far-right paramilitary and leftist guerrilla groups terrorized provincial reporters. In an important step in the fight against impunity, a court convicted the masterminds in a 2003 journalist killing. While CPJ research has shown a gradual decline in journalist murders over the last five years, one reporter was slain in reprisal for his work in 2009.

Last week’s cover story in the leading Colombian newsweekly Semana—known for investigations that have shaken the core of the administration of President Alvaro Uribe Vélez—revealed further evidence of illegal wiretapping of journalists by the Administrative Department of Security (DAS), the country’s national intelligence service. The article, titled “A handbook for threats,” disclosed outrageous details about the intimidation techniques used by the DAS on journalists it considered dangerous.

The conviction of the masterminds of José Emeterio Rivas' murder did not surprise his colleagues in Barrancabermeja, a city in the northern Santander province, where the journalist was shot in 2003. The former mayor's involvement in the crime and his relationship with paramilitary forces was a well-known secret in the city. Despite witnesses' fear and lack of confidence in the judicial process, the truth finally saw the light of day.

New York, January 22, 2009--The convictions of three former public officials on charges of plotting the 2003 murder of Colombian radio commentator José Emeterio Rivas represent a historic step forward in the campaign to end impunity in the killings of journalists, CPJ said today. The three are the first masterminds to be convicted and imprisoned in a journalist killing in Colombia since 1992, CPJ research shows.

Untold Stories

Threatened on all sides, Colombia's news media muzzle themselves.

Colombia: Mala Prensa

Este jefe militar cultiva a periodistas, y también los asesina. Para Carlos Castaño, todo radica en la imagen.
This Colombian warlord cultivates journalists. He also murders them. For Carlos Castaño, it's all about image.
CPJ Names 10 Enemies of the Press on World Press Freedom Day
IN A DEVASTATING YEAR FOR COLOMBIA, journalists were murdered, assaulted, threatened, and kidnapped. Many fled into exile. With the peace process that began in 1999 largely moribund, a nearly four-decade conflict that pits two major leftist guerrilla groups against the army and right-wing paramilitary forces continued to escalate throughout the year. All the warring factions targeted journalists.

Three journalists were killed in reprisal for their work in 2000, according to CPJ research. CPJ continues to investigate the cases of four more Colombian journalists whose violent deaths last year may have been related to their professional work.

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