Police in Bogota arrested a citizen reporter on terrorism charges after exposing police brutality in Colombia’s capital.
The prosecution charged Bogota native Jonathan Estiven Aldana on terrorism and attempted murder charges.
According to media loyal to far-right President Ivan Duque, Aldana would be the “leader” of a so-called “Frontline” group in Bogota’s Suba district.
People throughout Colombia formed Frontline groups to protect themselves and others against extreme police violence that sought to quell anti-government protests that kicked off in April.
Citizen reports on the deadly police violence spurred criminal charges against Defense Minister Diego Molano and the director of the National Police, General Jorge Luis Vargas.
Protest organizations fiercely rejected the arrest of the citizen reporter, claiming that Aldana was arrested on trumped up charges.
They are arresting the press, the people who stuck out their necks in the streets to keep us informed. That is the real “crime,” telling the truth!
Revista Primera Linea Colombia
In August, Police in Medellin arrested another citizen reporter, Juan Fernando Torres, who had been reporting on anti-government protests in Colombia’s second largest city.
The director of the prosecution’s Organized Crime Unit, Javier Enrique Garcia, has been leading the persecution of alleged members of the Frontline groups, equating organized protest with organized crime.
Garcia is also in charge of the prosecution unit that is supposed to investigate the human rights violations made public by the citizen reporters.
The defense minister said in August that “not one” of the “criminals” and “bandits” who had joined a Frontline group “will remain free.”
The US Government has been pressuring authorities to prosecute those responsible for the violence, but without significant result.
So far, only one policeman has been charged for the murder of one of the allegedly 77 people who, according to human rights organizations, were killed by police during the protests.