Following death threats, journalist leaves Colombia

Carlos Serrano, director and radio host for the Bogotá-based Radio Diversia, left Colombia on May 11, 2009, after receiving death threats against him and other reporters from the radio station, according to local news reports and CPJ interviews 

On May 5, Serrano received a threatening e-mail message at the radio station, Nikita Dupois, Radio Diversia’s spokeswoman, told CPJ. The e-mail threat, reviewed by CPJ, said that if Serrano did not leave the country within eight days, he “would be responsible for the safety of all the people who work [at the radio station], we are ready for everything… a bomb would not be so bad,” the message said. The e-mail was signed by a group that identified itself as “La Organizacion,” a group that according to Radio Diversia journalists, has been linked to threats to groups working with HIV/AIDS, the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender (LBGT) community, and sex workers. Fearing for his life, Serrano left Colombia for Chile, where he is originally from, local news reports said.

Radio Diversia is a radio station dedicated to advocating for LBGT rights. Most of the station’s programming focuses on reports on hate crimes against Bogotá’s LBGT community, Radio Diversia’s journalists said. 

Dupois told CPJ that since Serrano left the country, the station has not received further threats. However, as a precautionary measure, the station has been relocated to an undisclosed location, she said. The spokeswoman told CPJ that Radio Diversia is transmitting over the Internet until a new location for the station can be found. 

On April 30, unidentified individuals broke into Radio Diversia’s offices in Bogotá and stole two computers containing information about the station’s projects and contacts, according to the national daily El Tiempo.

Local police are investigating the theft of the computers and the threats against Serrano, Dupois told CPJ, but have not made any leads public.

Dupois, who is also host of “Alter Arte” and “La Noche Diversia” in addition to being the administrative coordinator for the station, said she and journalists Liseth Rochels and Nicolay Duque are under police protection. The station’s two other journalists refused protection, Dupois told CPJ.