PBI-Colombia accompanies journalist Claudia Julieta Duque at trial of DAS agent accused of psychological torture
On July 24, Colombian journalist Claudia Julieta Duque tweeted (in Spanish), “Many thanks to @PBIColombia for accompanying me in the court hearing on William Merchán for torture in my case…”
She also thanked in her tweet, “@IFJGlobal @PeriodistasFSC and @marvindelcid for the coverage and support always.”
That morning Duque had tweeted (in Spanish), “About to resume trial for torture in my case against William Merchán, DAS hacker. We continue to fight for JUSTICE.”
Earlier this year, Time magazine named Duque one of the 10 journalists in the world facing the most urgent threats to press freedom and explained, “Duque has endured kidnapping, illegal surveillance, psychological torture and repeated exiles as a result of her work.”
Duque and her daughter were targeted by Colombia’s DAS intelligence service beginning in 2001. That was when Duque was investigating the murder of journalist, comedian and peace activist Jaime Garzón who was shot to death in August 1999.
El Espectador explains (in Spanish), “Duque found clues that could link state agents to the crime. After her findings, she began to be intimidated, through threatening calls and funeral wreaths that arrived at her home, until she was kidnapped that year for a few hours.”
Reporters Without Borders has highlighted, “After the DAS spied on her while pretending to protect her, she fled abroad from 2004 to 2006. Following her return, she and her 10-year-old daughter were the target of death threats in 2008, so she fled abroad again, returning later the same year.”
Years passed until 2013 when the prosecutor’s office finally issued a detention order against seven former DAS agents for the aggravated psychological torture of Duque.
One of those accused of psychological torture is William Merchán.
Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has accompanied Duque since 2010.
Of PBI, Duque says, “They are indispensable people who not only support you but accompany with respect and dedication for your struggles and with their company give you the strength to continue. Many of the things I do could not be done without PBI.”