Colombian reporter denies links to rebels, says contacts purely for journalistic work

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A Colombian reporter accused of conspiring with leftist rebels denied the allegations Friday, saying his contacts with the guerrillas were purely for his journalistic work.

William Parra said in an interview with The Associated Press in Venezuela, where he lives, that police and military in his home country have viewed him as an enemy ever since he refused to lead them to a camp where he interviewed a leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"I don't have anything to hide. My closeness to the guerrillas was exclusively out of journalistic interest," Parra told the AP. "I never passed a line beyond that."

A Colombian court issued a warrant for Parra's arrest Monday. Prosecutors have accused him of financing terrorist activities and sedition. But on Friday, prosecutor Ricardo Bejarano said he was removed from the case.

Parra called that a positive step.

"It shows they are in fact recognizing all of the highhandedness," he said.

He said Colombian authorities should also allow him access to any evidence they believe they have against him related to contacts with the FARC.

Bejarano has said prosecutors have e-mails that Parra exchanged with Raul Reyes, a rebel commander killed in 2008, and that in one, Reyes asks Parra to buy missiles in the Middle East.

Parra denied meeting with anyone to discuss weapons for the FARC. "When they show me that evidence, I'm willing to go to jail," he said.

Parra was press secretary for then-Colombian President Ernesto Samper in the 1990s and has recently worked with Telesur, the regional TV network backed by Venezuela's leftist government. He said he has worked independently since leaving Telesur in 2008.

Parra has lived for several years in Venezuela, where he obtained refugee status saying he faced political persecution in Colombia.