Colombian journalist Hollman Morris is not allowed to enter the United States because the State Department considers him “permanently ineligible for a visa under the “Terrorist activities” section of the USA Patriot Act,” the curator of the Nieman foundation at Harvard told press agency Associated Press (AP).
U.S. magazine The Progressive reported late June that the journalist had been refused a visa, something that Morris has not confirmed or denied.
However, Bob Giles, curator of the Nieman Foundation, confirmed that Morris is not allowed to enter the U.S. and because of this can not attend the mid-career fellowship at the university.
“We were very surprised. This has never happened before,” Giles told AP. “And Hollman has traveled previously in the United States to give speeches and receive awards.” He said he had written the State Department to ask it to reconsider the decision.
Giles told AP by telephone that the only visa issues ever to arise with Nieman Fellows have been over concerns they might try to remain in the US – clearly not the issue in Morris’ case.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says to be “shocked” about Morris’ visa denial. “We feel its outrageous,” executive director Joel Simon told the press agency.
Morris, maker of independent television program Contravia, is a critic of the government of Alvaro Uribe and has often denounced ties between right-wing paramilitary death squads and political allies of the president.
According to Morris, Colombia’s intelligence agency DAS was involved in a smear campaign against him, which included efforts to have the journalist’s U.S. visa denied.
Uribe had accused Morris of being “an accomplice of terrorism.” This accusation led to criticism by the UN, the OAS and international human rights groups.