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Journalist Miguel Ángel Casillas Báez receives multiple threats believed to be linked to his journalism work and support of human rights defenders

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - The following is an abbreviated translation of a 25 March 2009 ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS press release:

Miguel Ángel Casillas Báez, the editorial director of the "Diario de los Altos" newspaper, in Jalisco, western Mexico, has been threatened on three separate occasions in March 2009. The threats are presumed to originate from the local authorities and are believed to be linked to Casillas Báez's journalism work as well as his activities in defence of human rights.

On 16 March, the "Diario de los Altos"'s e-mail account was tampered with such that the newspaper's employees were unable to access information that has been generated over the last five years.

Subsequently, on 17 March, Casillas Báez received a threatening e-mail message, which said the following: "Be careful! Today we hijacked the newspaper's e-mail account, be careful what you publish, we don't want to hurt anybody. Greetings from the Jalisco congress, from a friend who cares for you deeply and is watching you, yearning to meet with you."

After receiving the threat, Casillas Báez filed a complaint with the authorities. However, the threats then intensified and the journalist received another e-mail message, this time saying, "UYYYYYY, I'm scared . . . watch me tremble . . ."

Then, on the afternoon of 18 March, Casillas Báez received a telephone call in which a man who said he was in charge of a section of the "Los Zetas" criminal gang told the journalist, "We know who you are, we know where you live, we know the places you tend to go to, we know who your family is and we want to know how you intend to collaborate with us . . . I want money . . . you are in danger as of now, you and your family, you had better cooperate."

In an interview, Casillas Báez said he fears for his life and the lives of his family members and that he is sure he is receiving the threats as a result of his journalism work, in which he publicises cases of human rights abuses. He also noted that he has filed a complaint about the threats with the authorities, including the Jalisco State Human Rights Commission, but has not yet received a reply.

CENCOS and ARTICLE 19 call on the state authorities to investigate the threats against Casillas Báez and ensure the safety of the journalist. The organisations also call on the state government to guarantee access to the justice system, to respect freedom of expression and other fundamental human rights and to punish those responsible for the threats against Casillas Báez.

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