afp colombia stmt 5.2_rs.jpg
Colombian soldiers wearing masks as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 are deployed on Simon Boliviar square in Bogota on April 21, 2020. A report by Colombian newsweekly Semana released May 1 found that Colombian military intelligence had surveilled local and international journalists. (AFP/Juan Barreto)

Colombian military monitored local, international journalists, Semana reports

May 1, 2020 9:53 PM ET

New York, May 1, 2020 -- The Committee to Protect Journalists today expressed alarm at a new report alleging that Colombian military intelligence officials carried out an extensive monitoring operation targeting more than 130 individuals including more than 30 national and international journalists, and called on authorities to immediately undertake a transparent investigation into the network and ensure those responsible face justice.

The operation was exposed in a report published today by Colombian newsweekly Semana, titled “The Secret Files” (Las carpetas secretas). The revelation follows an earlier Semana investigation, published in January, that revealed the same military group had surveilled and attempted to intimidate the magazine’s reporters, including investigative team head Ricardo Calderón. Today’s report revealed that the group targeted journalists at local outlets such as Caracol Radio and Rutas del Conflicto, as well as international outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and National Geographic. Earlier today, Colombian Defense Minister Carlos Trujillo announced the firing of 11 officers for “irregularities” in military intelligence work, according to news reports.

“The new investigation on this operation adds deeply alarming details on how the program by the Colombian military put both local and international reporters and their sources at risk,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “The government of President Iván Duque must take swift action to identify those responsible and ensure they face appropriate consequences.”

One of the international journalists profiled is CPJ Andes Correspondent John Otis, who also contributes to The Wall Street Journal and NPR.

Over the last two decades, CPJ has documented how the Colombian military has repeatedly engaged in surveillance of journalists and human rights defenders.