A month ago, we asked on the News Blog: “Isn’t anyone out there concerned about the potential hazard posed to real reporters when soldiers masquerade as journalists?”
We raised the issue because we hadn’t seen any expressions of worry from major journalists’ organizations since it was revealed that Colombian special forces who took part in a dramatic hostage rescue pretended to be both aid workers and a TV crew.
So we were delighted to see last week that the Committee to Protect Journalists has written Colombia’s Defense Minister to say:
“We fear that such impersonations could endanger the work of the already beleaguered Colombian media… By posing as journalists, security forces undermine the role of the free press and bring mistrust to the profession, ultimately damaging the public good.”
CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon went on to say the impersonation of journalists was especially troubling at a time when reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan were being kidnapped and accused of being spies.
Colombia’s government has so far sought to minimize the issue. Like CPJ, we hope they give these expressions of concern serious consideration.