Following the trail of murdered journalists

October 24th 2018 – An investigation into the circumstances of the kidnapping, on March 26th 2018, then the murder a few days later of Ecuadorian journalist Javier Ortega, photographer Paúl Rivas, and their driver Efraín Segarra.

A long term, collaborative work at the border between Ecuador and Colombia involving hopes of release, drug trafficking groups, ex-FARC guerrilleros, communications between police and criminals, secrecy and inaction of governments.

Keeping Stories Alive

Forbidden Stories partnered with 19 Ecuadorian and Colombian journalists to investigate the assassination of 3 fellow reporters from the daily El Comercio. The kidnapping and assassination of Javier Ortega, Efraín Segarra and Paúl Rivas is a tragic reminder of the terrible conditions journalists face in this region.

Controlled by former FARC militias fighting for the control of the drug trade, the border between Ecuador and Columbia is a strategic point from which cocaine is then routed to Central and North America.

Because we believe this story is of global significance, Forbidden Stories mobilized its partners to give echo to the brave work of our Ecuadorian and Columbian colleagues, and to keep Javier, Efraín and Paúl’s stories alive.

Deadly Border

On the 26th of March 2018, a journalist and a photographer from Ecuador as well as their driver were kidnapped by former FARC guerillas on the border with Colombia while they were working on a story about drug-trafficking. They were found dead three months later. A group of nineteen Ecuadorian and Colombian journalists, in partnership with the organization “Forbidden Stories”, carried out an investigation into the death of their colleagues. Today, sixteen international media are publishing the outcome of this investigation.


'This border is out of control': journalists' murders shock Ecuador

The killings show the dangers of reporting on this isolated part of Latin America on the Colombia-Ecuador frontier


Deadly Border

A journalist, photographer and driver found dead, deep in Colombian narcos territory


Forbidden Stories: Deadly border where journalists go missing

On March 26, 2018, a journalist and a photographer from Ecuador as well as their driver were kidnapped by former FARC guerillas on the border with Colombia while they were working on a story about drug-trafficking. They were found dead three months later.


Forbidden Stories: Fronteira Mortal

Em 26 de março de 2018, um jornalista e um fotógrafo equatorianos, juntamente com o seu motorista, foram sequestrados por ex-guerrilheiros das FARC na fronteira com a Colômbia quando trabalhavam numa história sobre o tráfico de drogas. Foram encontrados mortos três meses depois.


En Equateur, des journalistes sur les traces de leurs confrères assassinés

Un reporter, un photographe et leur chauffeur ont été assassinés à la frontière colombienne alors qu’ils enquêtaient sur le trafic de drogue.


Cómo exguerrilleros de las FARC "dieron plomo" a periodistas para proteger al narco

Muchos guerrilleros de las FARC se quedaron huérfanos de actividad toda vez que el grupo opositor colombiano se disolvió y se integró en la política en 2017. Ahora se dedican al narcotráfico.


Drei tote Journalisten und eine Frage

Mitarbeiter einer ecuadorianischen Tageszeitung recherchieren zum eskalierenden Drogenkrieg – und bezahlen mit ihrem Leben. Was geschah im Dschungel zwischen Ecuador und Kolumbien?


Jornalistas investigam morte de repórteres na fronteira entre Equador e Colômbia

Tragédia que vitimou equipe do jornal El Comercio devastou sociedade equatoriana


Tödliche Grenze

Ein Journalist und ein Fotograf aus Ecuador begeben sich gemeinsam mit ihrem Fahrer an die Grenze zu Kolumbien. Sie wollen zum Drogenhandel recherchieren – und geraten in die Hände der marxistischen Farc-Guerilla.


Javier Ortega, l’histoire d’un journaliste équatorien assassiné par les narcotrafiquants

En mars 2018, un journaliste et un photographe équatoriens, ainsi que leur chauffeur, sont kidnappés par des ex-guérilleros FARC à la frontière entre l’Équateur et la Colombie alors qu’ils enquêtent sur le trafic de drogues. Ils sont retrouvés morts trois mois plus tard.


Frontera Cautiva

19 periodistas relatan historias del secuestro y asesinato del equipo de prensa de El Comercio.


죽음의 국경: 마약전쟁 취재 중 피살된 기자 이야기

한국탐사저널리즘센터-뉴스타파는 국제협업 탐사보도 프로젝트인 ‘금지된 기사(Forbidden Stories)’에 아시아 지역의 유일한 파트너로 참여해 가디언과 르몽드 등 세계 10여 개 주요매체와 함께 주요 취재 결과물을 동시 게재합니다.


Il confine della morte

Inchiesta sul sequestro ed esecuzione di Javier Ortega, Paul Rivas e Efrain Segarra, assassinati dai narcos colombiani nel marzo di quest’anno. Le responsabilità e i silenzi di chi non ha impedito la loro morte.


Enquête internationale à la frontière Colombie-Equateur

«Frontière mortelle». Enquête internationale sur l’assassinat d’un journaliste, d’un photographe et de leur chauffeur à la frontière Colombie-Equateur


La historia detrás del secuestro y ejecución del equipo periodístico ecuatoriano

Un nombre escrito con letra pequeña en el registro de un hotel: Javier Ortega. Profesión: periodista. Ese fue el último rastro que dejó el reportero ecuatoriano el lunes 26 de marzo pasado en la región de Esmeraldas, en el noroeste de Ecuador .


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They support us

Can Dündar

Former editor of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet

It will send a very clear message to oppressive governments that if they touch a journalist anywhere in the world, many others will be ready to support and follow up their story.”

Khadija Ismayilova

Azerbajani investigative journalist

“What you are suggesting is creating a newsroom for journalists who have no press freedom. You will get fantastic stories.

Marina Walker

Executive editor at Pulitzer Center

“By working together, journalists can make it harder for censorship to win. We’re proud to support Forbidden Stories.”

Matthew Caruana Galizia

Maltese journalist, son of slain reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia

“We couldn’t allow our mother’s stories to die with her. They were too important. For them to be forgotten would have been like killing her twice.

Fabrice Arfi

Mediapart‘s head of investigations

The finest project of investigative journalism, in solidarity against censorship.

Bastian Obermayer

2017 Pulitzer Prize winner

“Even if Forbidden Stories rescues just a handful of investigations that fall into a sort of limbo each time a journalist is jailed or killed, it will already be a great victory for citizens.”

Sandhya Ravishankar

Indian journalist

“Now I know that Forbidden Stories will always have my back.”

Will Potter

Author, journalist and internationally-recognized civil liberties advocate

“Truly inspirational and innovative work.”