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Colombian journalist sends himself death threats

April 28, 2015

A Colombian journalist who admitted to sending himself death threats to benefit from state protection will face criminal charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Yesid Toro, a former crime reporter at a tabloid in the western city of Cali, admitted last week in an open letter that he was the author of a flyer circulated last September that threatened eight journalists including himself.

The flyer was signed “Clan Usuga,” a powerful drug gang, but Toro said he in fact wrote it himself to because he did not want to lose the security provided to him by Colombia’s National Protection Unit (UNP), which was set to expire.

The UNP, which granted him “special protection measures” because of the flyer, said it would press charges, calling it “irresponsible” to threaten other journalists.

It said it had spent $48,000 protecting the eight reporters.

The UNP is charged with protecting some 7,500 people deemed to be threatened by Colombia’s five-decade civil war, a conflict rife with kidnappings and assassinations that has at various times drawn in leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.

It has 114 journalists under its watch.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.