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Police assault and threaten journalists Federico Vite López, Álvaro Solís Castillo and Miguel Ángel Andrade Torres

(CEPET/IFEX) - Federico Vite López, Álvaro Solís Castillo and Miguel Ángel Andrade Torres, reporters with the newspapers "Intolerancia", "El Columnista" and "Cambio", respectively, were assaulted by police when they identified themselves as journalists, in Puebla state, central Mexico.

Vite López said that on 14 March 2009, around 3:30 a.m. (local time), the three journalists were returning to their homes in the centre of Puebla, when they were stopped by a white Dodge pick-up truck.

Three armed individuals in police uniforms exited the vehicle and, without identifying themselves, said that they were undertaking an antidrug operation and had to check them, said the reporter.

The journalists were interviewed separately. They pointed a gun at Andrade Torres and took Solis Castillo's wallet and slapped him. He had asked why he was being harassed.

Vite López said that when he told them he worked for a newspaper the police became more violent. They threw the journalists to the ground, handcuffed them and then put them in the truck. They were detained for 25 minutes during which they were continuously beaten and threatened with crude language.

The police officers said the press had humiliated the police in the public's eyes and that they should learn to keep quiet. After driving to the outskirts of the city, the officers let them go while threatening them with death.

The journalists were not able to identify which branch of the police the officers belong to, but they reported the incident to the state prosecutor's office (Ministerio Público del Estado) and the municipal department for public safety ( Secretaría de Seguridad Pública municipal).

CEPET condemns the assaults suffered by Federico Vite López, Álvaro Solís Castillo and Miguel Ángel Andrade Torres and maintains that such incidents against journalists and the media represent an attack on society because they compromise the public's access to information.

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