COLOMBIA: Bogotá journalist receives threats after probe

AUGUST 13, 2007
Posted August 21, 2007

Juan Pablo Monsalve, RCN

Monsalve, a Bogotá-based reporter for the nightly news program “La Noche” on national television station RCN, received multiple threatening calls after he did initial reporting on alleged government corruption in a small town in the northern Bolívar province. Monsalve told CPJ the piece had not been aired.

Monsalve said that on July 15 he traveled to the town of Cantagallos in Bolívar after “La Noche” received information about diversion of local oil production revenue. According to the journalist, he conducted initial interviews while in Cantagallos before returning to Bogotá. “La Noche” decided not to air a piece until Monsalve had further information, the journalist told CPJ.

On the afternoon of August 13, Monsalve received three calls to his cell phone. An unidentified caller asked who had paid him for the Bolívar story, the journalist told CPJ. In a second call from the same number, another unidentified man restated the question. Monsalve said a third individual, who called himself José Bernabé and alleged he was a member of the right-wing paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), ordered him to air the corruption piece or he would die.

Monsalve told CPJ that he alerted RCN security personnel and Colombian authorities immediately to the threats against him. The Colombian police assigned him a temporary police escort while they investigate the nature of the threats, said Monsalve.