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Journalist kidnapped, receives death threat in Chihuahua

(CEPET/IFEX) - Cleofas Ledezma Flores, host of the "Expresión de los Chihuahuaenses" news programme aired on the Canal 10 television station, was kidnapped and assaulted by a group of armed men on the morning of 17 December 2009. He was also warned that he would be killed if he failed to follow certain instructions. The television station for which Ledezma Flores works is based in the city of Chihuahua, in Chihuahua state, northern Mexico.

According to Ledezma Flores and his relatives, at least six uniformed men, bearing the insignia of the National Public Prosecutor's Office (Procuraduría General de la República) on their clothing, burst into the journalist's home at approximately 3:00 a.m. They pointed their weapons at the journalist and forced him to get into his own car.

Ledezma Flores's assailants handcuffed him and taped his eyes shut, then took him to an isolated location where they beat him and told him he needed to issue an apology on his programme. According to the journalist, they said it was his fault that their "boss" was not going to "be a candidate." They then gave him until the following day to issue an apology and afterwards resign from his work and leave the city. If he refused to do so they threatened to kill him. Finally, the journalist's assailants cut his mustache off with a razor, took his clothes off, tied him by the hands and feet, and then left him with his car at a location near the city's Juan Pablo II boulevard.

After a few minutes, Ledezma Flores was able to free himself, get in his car and ask for help. Chihuahua Municipal Police officers and a team from the Prevention, Operations and Logistical Investigations Division (Control de Investigación, de Prevención, Operación y Logística, CIPOL) arrived at the scene. The journalist was then accompanied as he filed a complaint with the authorities.

The Chihuahua Journalists' Association attributed the actions against Ledezma Flores to "political hitmen" whose aim was to "silence the journalist in a clear maneuver against freedom of expression."

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