Dr. Miguel Angel Beltran Villegas, an Associate Professor of Sociology at the Universidad National de Colombia, was arrested in May 2009 on terrorism charges. Academic colleagues in Colombia and abroad believe that Dr. Villegas is a serious researcher of politics and social conflict in Colombia and that the allegations are being made in retaliation for his criticism of the government. They also claim that Villegas was denied access to counsel at various times during his imprisonment.
CCS wrote a letter to President Calderon, requesting a fair trial.
July 2011: See Acquitted Colombian professor to resume teaching
Read the letter:
President Juan Manuel Santos Calderon
President of the Republic of Colombia
Casa de Narino, Carrera 8 NO. 7-26
Edificio Administrativo, Calle 7 No. 6-54
Bogota, Republic of Colombia
Dear Dr. Santos:
We are an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world. We write now in concern about Dr. Miguel Angel Beltran Villegas.
Dr. Villegas is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the Universidad National de Colombia. His academic interests include the analysis of social con?ict and political history of Colombia and Latin America. As part of his research, he has met with and interviewed known members of FARC.
We understand from news reports that Professor Villegas was arrested in May 2009 on the basis of materials contained in the laptop of a deceased FARC official, which refer to correspondence between FARC and a “Jaime Cienfuegos,” a supporter and promoter of FARC. The authorities claim that Cienfuegos was a pseudonym for Villegas, a charge that he denies. Academic colleagues in Colombia and abroad believe that Dr. Villegas is a serious researcher and that the allegations are being made in retaliation for his criticism of the government. They also claim that Villegas was denied access to counsel at various times during his imprisonment.
In view of the seriousness of these criminal charges, it seems especially important to provide Dr. Villegas with a fair trial, with all of the protections required by Colombian and international law. Although we do not know whether the trial is ongoing or yet to begin, we respectfully urge you to investigate whether the accusations are based on credible evidence or whether they were made in retaliation for his criticism of the Colombian government. If it is the latter, his imprisonment deprives Dr. Villegas of his right to express his opinions under Colombian and international law. We look forward to your response.
Eugene Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer, Joel Lebowitz, Walter Reich, Paul Plotz,
Co-chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
cc: Minister of the Interior and Justice
Dr. German Vargas Lleras
Ministry of the Interior and Justice
Carrera 9 No. 14-10, Bogota, Colombia