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Member of free expression mission called "enemy of the state" by government official; six IFEX members, others protest

(AMARC/IFEX) - The following is an 8 May 2008 AMARC press release:

"You are an enemy of the state", high-ranking public official tells member of Free Expression Mission to Mexico

Mexico, 8 May 2008 - Aleida Calleja, a Mexican journalist and AMARC's international vice-president was verbally accosted by Juan de Dios Castro Lozano, a deputy Attorney General responsible for human rights and victim and community services (Subprocurador de Derechos Humanos, Atención a Víctimas y Servicios a la Comunidad).

The incident occurred on 21 April 2008, during a meeting between Castro Lozano and 11 international freedom of expression and press freedom organizations, participants in an international free expression mission to Mexico.

According to the participants of the mission, Castro Lozano referred to Calleja as an "enemy of the state" in the context of a discussion on the recent murder of two community radio journalists in Oaxaca. Surprised at the accusation, Calleja asked the official if she was really considered that way, to which the official aggressively asserted: "Yes, you are an enemy of the state because of the things you say."

Throughout the meeting, the official maintained a very confrontational tone, despite repeated indications by members of the mission that they were interested in dialogue and collaboration.

On 30 April, the same 11 organisations sent a letter to Presidente Felipe Calderón expressing their concern over the accusation made against Calleja, pointing out Castro Lozano's lack of professionalism and his apparent disinterest in the issue of journalists' safety in Mexico. The incident is especially worrisome considering the perpetrator is a high-ranking official responsible for human rights and victim support.

AMARC and the other mission members have requested an explanation and an apology from the federal government.

World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters - AMARC

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