Four journalists held during indigenous protest released

New York, May 22, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release of four Colombian journalists who were detained on May 17 while covering indigenous protests against a free trade pact with the United States in Cauca province.

Two days after the arrest, police released Richard Calpa, director of the radio station La Libertad in the city of Totoró, Marcelo Forero, a reporter with the Bogotá-based news Web site El Turbión, and Carmen Eugenia León and Jesús López, who were reporting for the indigenous radio network Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas. The journalists were freed without charge, local police told CPJ.

Calpa told CPJ that police beat him and sprayed him with tear gas before arresting him. Omar Vera, editor of El Turbión, said Forero was also beaten with a baton after identifying himself as a journalist. Vera said that police confiscated two cameras and a laptop computer, which have not been returned. The police also confiscated Calpa’s tape recorder.

“We are relieved by the release of our colleagues who were detained solely for doing their jobs,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “However, we are concerned about complaints of police brutality against two of the detained journalists, and call on Colombian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into these accusations while immediately returning their property.”

To read the original alert click here: