Colombian journalist Hollman Morris says that the rejection of his application for a U.S. visa under “terrorist activities” section of the Patriot Act “indisputably puts my life in danger,” the Huffington Post reports.
Morris applied for a visa in order to take up his place as a Neiman International Fellow at Harvard University, which would involve him living in the U.S. for a year. His application was denied in mid-June.
“I never thought that this government with whom I’ve had the best relations would deny my visa. That’s why I insist and believe that it’s a lamentable error,” the journalist said. He has “met frequently with high-ranking American officials and been received at agencies from the State Department to the Pentagon,” according to the Washington Post.
Morris, an outspoken critic of the Colombian government, was a target of DAS’s surveillance of a range of individuals and organisations considered to be opponents of President Alvaro Uribe‘s government, including opposition politicians, human rights workers, and Supreme Court judges.
In April, Morris was given files by the prosecutor general which allegedly belong to the DAS. The files include Morris’ photograph and address, and instructions including “Request the suspension of visa.” Cipcol, a U.S. organization which published the files online, interprets this statement to mean Morris’ U.S. visa.
The Inter-American Press Association echoed Morris’ concerns about his safety in a letter sent Wednesday to the U.S. Ambassador and Consul in Colombia.
The letter said that the visa denial reflects “inappropriately on the journalist, leaving him in a state of defenselessness and vulnerability in front of violent antagonistic groups that might take reprisals.”