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Police assault, threaten photojournalist in Oaxaca

(CEPET/IFEX) - Manuel León López, a photojournalist for the online paper "Rioaxaca", reported that he was assaulted and threatened by state police while taking photographs of an arrest that was taking place in Oaxaca City, southern Mexico.

According to León López, on 18 July 2009 he was at the "Rioaxaca" offices around 4:00 p.m. (local time) when he heard that a member of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca, APPO) was being arrested and went to the city's main square to see what was going on.

"In the rush I forgot my reporter's badge. I arrived and saw that the police were arresting a young woman, who is the sister of a well-known actor. I started to take pictures, but one of the police officers came up to me and asked me who I was. I told him I was a reporter and he asked for my identification. I explained that I had forgotten it, but told him that he could accompany me back to the news station, which was nearby, and I could show it to him. Nevertheless, he tried to take the camera from me."

Other police officers tried to take León López's equipment to erase the images he had taken of the arrest. He resisted, and they tried to put him in a state police car, but another reporter intervened.

"One of the officers asked me: 'you know what, you son-of-a-bitch? If you publish this, you will not see the end of this'. I took a photo of him and he raised his hand, holding a baton, as if to hit me, but then changed his mind. They pushed me towards the patrol car and were going to force me inside, but their chief spoke to them and told them not to detain anyone."

León López also said that once everything had calmed down, the same officer approached him with a warning that he should not publish any of the pictures he had taken, or else something "bad" would happen to him.

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