COLOMBIA: Photographer threatened after denouncing police attack

MAY 9 and 10, 2007
Posted May 16, 2007

José David Martínez, Vanguardia Liberal

Martínez, a photographer for the Bucaramanga-based daily Vanguardia Liberal, received two telephone threats after giving a sworn statement to the attorney general’s office on a February police attack against him. Bucaramanga is in the western province of Santander.

Martínez told CPJ that on May 9 and 10, unidentified individuals placed two calls to Vanguardia Liberal. The first caller left a message with the receptionist, warning the photographer “not to mess with authorities.” A second unidentified caller said that if Martínez persisted with his complaint, he would face unspecified consequences.

Martínez believes the telephone threats are linked to an official complaint he placed with national authorities after two local police officers attacked him on February 12 while he took photographs of police deactivating a bomb inside a local official’s car. The photographer told CPJ that the two officers punched and kicked him, threw him to the floor, cuffed him, and confiscated his camera before a crowd demanded his release.

Martínez placed a complaint the same day. The attorney general called him to testify on May 8 after local press freedom group Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP) pressed authorities to investigate the case, the group said.