Colombian columnist threatened at gunpoint after reporting on corruption

On March 23, 2017, a man arrived at the home of Colombian columnist, anticorruption activist, and law student Daniel Silva Orrego, threatened him with a gun, and told him to stop his investigations into corruption, according to the journalist and news reports.

The man “pointed a revolver at me and swore and told me not to do any more investigations or lawsuits, and that I had been warned,” Silva told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Silva, 21, investigates local politicians from his city of Pereira, roughly 300 kilometers (184 miles) west of the capital Bogotá. He publishes a regular column with the anti-corruption website Tras La Cola de la Rata.

Silva told CPJ that he has investigated numerous politicians for corruption, exposed their alleged misdeeds in his columns, and has filed lawsuits against some of them. According to news reports, over the past two years his lawsuits have led to the removal from office of four Pereira city council members for misuse of public funds, illegal contracting, and misdeeds.

In 2014 Silva filed suit against Pereira Senator Carlos Enrique Soto, accusing him of corruption. The senator denies the allegations and is fighting them in court, according to press reports.

Silva told CPJ that he thinks the March 23 threat was directly related to his work. He said he had been threatened in June 2016, when men on motorcycles followed him several times. Silva told CPJ that he approached the government’s National Protection Unit (UNP) for help after that incident, but that his request was ignored.

Silva told CPJ that the UNP agreed to provide Silva with a protective vest, a mobile phone, and a bodyguard in response to the March 23 threat. He told CPJ that as of March 27, he had received the vest and the phone, but that the bodyguard had yet to arrive.