A Colombian journalist has been charged with rebellion and terrorism for a series of bombings in 2002 – a move his news channel said was in response to his reporting on human rights violations.
Freddy Munoz, 36, was charged with participating in attacks on the electrical grid in and around the Caribbean coastal cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena, the chief federal prosecutor’s office said. No one was killed in the explosions.
Munoz works for the news channel Telesur, which is majority owned by the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez. Chavez has touted the news channel as an alternative to what he calls the Washington-friendly coverage of other large media outlets in the region.
His critics in Colombia have expressed concern the station would tilt its coverage toward the country’s leftist rebels and against the right-wing government of President Alvaro Uribe.
Telesur said Munoz was likely targeted by Uribe’s government for his work reporting on human rights violations in Colombia.
Several media watchdog groups have condemned Munoz’s detention. The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders called the arrest “an abuse of power, an arbitrary measure.”
Authorities claim three former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Latin America’s oldest and most potent rebel group, testified that Munoz helped carry out the 2002 bombings, which he has strongly denied.
“Munoz isn’t being arrested for his activities as a journalist but based on solid evidence implicating him in the crimes of rebellion and terrorism,” Rodrigo Barrera, a spokesman for Chief Federal Prosecutor Mario Iguaran, told The Associated Press.