Bogota: A press watchdog has condemned the release of a man who allegedly raped a Colombian journalist 15 years ago.

The watchdog, known as FLIP, called the decision an “enormous step back in the search for justice”.

The release of Alejandro Cardenas Orozco, which the journalist herself denounced on social media, “sends the message that attacks against the press are permissible and will go unpunished”, FLIP said in a statement.

The journalist, Jineth Bedoya, said: “My heart is heavy, but my dignity is intact!”

The victim, then 26, was kidnapped on May 25, 2000 at the entrance to Bogota’s La Modelo prison where she had arrived to interview a senior paramilitary member.

She was subsequently tortured and raped by her captors.

She is currently an editor with Bogota daily El Tiempo and earlier worked for another capital daily, El Espectador. She wrote on arms trafficking, disappearances and homicides in La Modelo prison.

The Attorney General’s office said it has concluded a phase of its investigation of Cardenas but stressed that the “decision is not final” and that it was committed to solving the case.

Cardenas confessed in 2011 to kidnapping the journalist while denying the rape charges.

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