Uribe labels journalists “terrorism sympathizers”

New York, August 24, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about comments made by former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Vélez that could endanger journalists Juan Forero and Claudia Julieta Duque and jeopardize press freedom in the country. Forero is the Washington Post‘s Andean region correspondent and Duque is a journalist who works in Colombia.

After the publication of the journalists’ stories on Saturday in the Washington Post that alleged that Uribe may have been involved in illegal actions using the national intelligence service with the help of the U.S., the former president accused Forero and Duque of being sympathizers of terrorism and accomplices of leftist guerrillas. 

“President Uribe must abstain from making baseless accusations against journalists Juan Forero and Claudia Julieta Duque,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior Americas program coordinator. “In the context of Colombia such comments are extremely dangerous.”

The Uribe administration was swept up in the major espionage scandal in which national intelligence officials under the former president’s supervision engaged in unlawful phone tapping, email interception, and surveillance of journalists, judges, and political opponents, CPJ research shows. Despite Uribe’s public pledges to root out those responsible for the espionage, only a few convictions have been obtained.