Posted December 11, 2007
William Parra, Telesur
Gen. Oscar Naranjo, director of the National Police, issued a statement on November 24 asserting that Parra, Colombia correspondent for the Caracas-based regional TV network Telesur, had manipulated information about a police officer who is being held by the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In his statement, Naranjo said authorities were investigating the nature of the relationship between Parra and the FARC.
In early November, Parra interviewed Capt. Guillermo Javier Solórzano, a police officer who had been kidnapped by the guerrilla group in the western Valle del Cauca province in June, as part of a documentary titled "Voces de la Selva" (Voices of the Jungle), reported the national daily El Tiempo. Telesur aired the documentary on November 26.
Two days before the broadcast, Naranjo issued the statement, reviewed by CPJ, in which he alleged that the journalist was misinforming the public by claiming Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's mediation between the Colombian government and the FARC had resulted in the filming of the interview. Naranjo also said that Parra had forced Solórzano's family to lie about the date of the recording. Parra and the Solórzano family denied the accusations, explaining that the journalist had sent the family a copy of the tape weeks earlier, according to reports in the Colombian press.
In his statement, Naranjo declared that an official investigation had been opened into the role played by Parra in Solórzano's kidnapping, as well as the links the journalist has to the guerrilla group. According to reports in the Colombian press, Parra denied the accusations. CPJ research has found that such public claims are often followed by acts of violence against the accused journalist.
Camilo Romero, chief correspondent for Telesur in Colombia, told CPJ that following Naranjo's accusations, the Administrative Department of Security had given Parra police protection.