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CJFE urges US authorities to grant Mexican journalist political asylum

(CJFE/IFEX) - 17 March 2011 - CJFE has written a protest letter to the American Ambassador to Canada urging the government to grant Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto political asylum in the United States:

The Honorable David Jacobson
Ambassador of the United States of America to Canada
The Embassy of the United States of America
PO Box 866 Station B
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5T1 Canada

March 17, 2011

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world. CJFE is concerned about the case of Mexican journalist Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, who has requested political asylum in the United States.

Gutiérrez left Mexico after receiving threats from military officials.

Fearing for his life, he crossed the border on June 15, 2008, with his teenage son, Oscar, and voluntarily approached immigration officials, who arrested him and placed him in a detention centre in El Paso until January 29, 2009. He is currently living with his son in Las Cruces, New Mexico, awaiting a decision from an immigration judge.

His troubles began in 2005 when he wrote an article about soldiers breaking into hotel rooms to steal food and valuables. Threatened by a general and a colonel, Gutiérrez stopped writing about the military but wrote an article about the incident and lodged a complaint with the Mexican human rights commission. In 2008, he was harassed again when the military searched his home and warned him against offending them. After writing an article about this incident, he received a tip that his life was in danger and left for the United States soon after.

His case implicates the Mexican military, which receives much of the $450 billion in aid from the Mérida Initiative the United States gives to the Mexican government for the war against drugs. A partnership between the United States and Mexico to fight organized crime, the initiative's funding is conditional on a clean human rights record on the part of the Mexican military, or a portion of the funds will be withdrawn. Mexico's military, in response to written questions from Wall Street Journal journalist Nicholas Casey, said it has found no evidence of wrongdoing in Gutiérrez's case and is not pursuing an investigation.

Given the threats on his life by a government authority that is receiving funding from the American government, CJFE strongly urges the American government to consider the serious consequences of deporting him, to grant him and his son political asylum in the United States. We hope that the United States will continue to work with Mexico to advance the protection of the right to freedom of expression and access to information.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

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