Reporter flees Colombia following Uribe-Escobar link claims

From Editor & Publisher, Oct. 5:

Gonzalo Guillen, a reporter for The Miami Herald’s Spanish-language daily El Nuevo Herald, has fled Colombia after President Alvaro Uribe accused him of ghost-writing a book linking the president to the notorious drug dealer Pablo Escobar, a Colombian free-press group said Friday.

The Bogota-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP for its initials in Spanish) said Guillen had left the country “fearing for his life due to threats previously received.” FLIP said Guillen first received death threats in May, and had been under “official state protection.”

His situation grew more dangerous, the group said, when in recent days Uribe accused him of helping the former mistress of Escobar write a book alleging the president, then a governor of a province, had received money for his political campaigns from the drug dealer. The book, by Virginia Vallejo, is called Loving Pablo, Hating Escobar.

Guillen, in published reports, had denied a role in writing the book.

On Monday, Uribe in a radio interview said Guillen “had dedicated himself to a journalistic career of lies and slander,”—remarks convinced Guillen it was time to leave the country, FLIP said.

Neither El Nuevo Herald Editor Humberto Castello nor News Editor Benigno Dou were at the newspaper Friday morning, their offices reported.

Claims of Uribe links to Escobar were already reported in the New York Times three years ago, citing the US Defense Intelligence Agency. See WW4 REPORT September 2004.

See our last post on Colombia.