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Journalist abducted, beaten, released in Durango

(CEPET/IFEX) - The following is a statement from CEPET, an interim member of IFEX:

Journalist in Durango abducted, beaten, released

After a nine-hour abduction, during which he was beaten, Onésimo Zúñiga Franco, a crime reporter in Durango for the Torreón, Coahuila state-based newspaper "El Sol de la Laguna", was released by his captors.

On 23 May 2007 at 5:00 p.m. (local time), Zúñiga Franco called the editorial office of the newspaper to say that he had been abducted by three individuals expressing "personal grievances" against him. They took him captive after he dropped his daughter off at school, some 10 blocks from his home, at around 8:00 a.m. His abductors took him in a taxi, escorted by a van, to a remote area with which the journalist was not familiar. There, they beat and then left him.

Zúñiga Franco had to walk various kilometres to a highway, where he caught a taxi home.

Upon being informed of the incident, the governor of Durango, Ismael Hernández, instructed State Public Prosecutor Oliverio Reza Cuellar to undertake an investigation, in which the police agencies of the state of Coahuila are also participating.

Management at "El Sol de la Laguna" publicly thanked all those who helped search for Zúñiga Franco during his abduction, and expressed their certainty that he would soon recover from the experience.

CEPET is concerned about the incident and holds that all attacks against journalists and media outlets in retaliation for their work, represent attacks against society at large because they endanger everyone's right to information.

CEPET also calls upon the authorities to investigate the case to ensure the incident does not go unpunished, and to determine whether or not the abduction and assault were related to the victim's work.

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