COLOMBIA: Authorities detain and deport Ecuadorian TV crew

June 26, 2007

Freddy Barros, Ecuavisa
Germán Picho, Ecuavisa
Sergio Quiñaluisa, Ecuavisa
Marcelo Orellana, Ecuavisa


Reporters Barros and Orellana, cameraman Quiñaluisa, and assistant Picho of the Quito-based television station Ecuavisa were detained on the Colombian border with Ecuador and held for more than 10 hours before being deported, according to international press reports. The crew said they were investigating the alleged murder of an Ecuadorian citizen by members of the Colombian army.

The crew entered Colombia in the morning through a small path where there was no military presence or official immigration post, The Associated Press reported. At 2 p.m., members of the Colombian army surrounded the four crew members with weapons and detained them, Barros told AP.

According to press reports, the crew was taken by helicopter to the nearby city of Puerto Aziz in the southwestern Putumayo province, and handed over to representatives of the Colombian Administrative Department of Security (DAS). DAS officials questioned them for eight hours and erased footage of their arrest, according to international press reports. At 12:30 a.m. on June 27, DAS officials escorted the crew to the Ecuadorian side of the border. The four Ecuadorians are forbidden from entering Colombia for five years.

Barros told AP that the crew was investigating the June 23 death of Marcos Quezada, an Ecuadorian citizen, in Putumayo. Quezada and three Colombians were shot to death by members of the Colombian army who alleged they were members of the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). According to international news reports, Quezada’s family denies the claim.

Gen. Germán Galvis of the Colombian army told AP that the television crew was detained and deported because they had violated Colombian immigration law by not requesting a special permission to work on Colombian territory.