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"Contralínea" offices ransacked; magazine's director suspects it was an intimidation tactic

(CEPET/IFEX) - 12 April 2010 - The editorial and administrative offices of "Contralínea" magazine in Mexico City were broken into and ransacked on the weekend of 10-11 April. The assailants took computers, mobile phones, cheque books and various items of value. They also seized some of the company's accounting and administrative files, including confidential information pertaining to the magazine's investigations.

According to the weekly's director, Miguel Badillo, on the morning of 12 April the cleaning staff arrived at the premises at 7:00 a.m. to find that the front doors had been forced.

In an interview with CEPET, the journalist said he believes the incident is yet another intimidation tactic against the magazine. Badillo accused the federal government of boycotting "Contralínea" by not providing it with any advertising and of being behind the harassment and threats the magazine has received after reporting on a corruption and influence peddling case involving Zeta Gas and Oceanografía, two private companies contracted by the semi-public company Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX).

Badillo is convinced that this was not just an ordinary robbery. Even though the magazine's offices are on the fourth floor, no other office in the building was broken into, Badillo added. "We can't believe this was just a simple robbery when the company's documents and minutes were taken. These things are useless to a thief . . . the company's entire administrative offices were ransacked. They were looking to find out as much as they could about the company's administration," he explained.

On 14 September 2009, the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, CNDH) issued a recommendation noting that the "Contralínea" staff had been the target of systematic legal harassment by PEMEX. The legal proceedings, which were arbitrary and lacked transparency, were about the allocation of state advertising to the magazine and the granting of interviews with the company's officials.

A complaint was filed with the Mexico City Public Prosecutor's Office. The weekly also informed the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The magazine will seek precautionary measures from the IACHR.

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