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Journalist receives death threat after writing article on drug trafficking

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - Journalist Jorge Alejandro Medellín received death threats on 31 October 2010 after publishing an article that described possible links between organised crime and military and justice department authorities responsible for combating drug trafficking in the state of Chihuahua.

At the bottom of the online version of the article "General Espitia, in the eye of the storm", published in the "Milenio" weekly magazine, a person identified as "Isacc" posted two comments in which he threatened to kill the reporter. The comments have since been removed from the website.

The article made reference to the career trajectory of Felipe de Jesus Espitia Hernandez, a general in the Mexican army who was the coordinator of Joint Operation - Chihuahua, a programme aimed at fighting drug trafficking.

According to the Eje Central website, Medellín has practiced journalism since the 1980s. He writes a column for the website and specialises in covering topics related to the military, national security, public safety and drug trafficking. He also belongs to a group that looks at themes of security and democracy.

In an interview with ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS, Medellín indicated that he was concerned about his and his family's safety. He confirmed that he had lodged a formal complaint with the Attorney General's Office, which was passed on to the office for the investigation of organised crime (Subprocuraduría de Investigación Especializada en Delincuencia Organizada, SIEDO).

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS urge the Attorney General's Office to conduct a thorough investigation into the source of the threats and bring the responsible party to justice, as well as undertake other measures to safeguard the security of Medellín and his family.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS voice their concern about the threats and call attention to the fact that, in 2009, 65 per cent of crimes against journalists were committed by the authorities. Preliminary statistics from 2010 indicate that the trend has not changed.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS call on the Mexican government to respect and protect freedom of expression, as per its international obligations.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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