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Mexican reporter abducted for several hours for planning to cover peace march

This article was originally published on rsf.org on 8 October 2014.

Reporter Miguel Ortega Bonilla is requesting protection for himself and his family after being threatened and abducted for several hours on 5 October in Teziutlán, in the central state of Puebla, as he was about to cover a peace march in the neighbouring town of Chignautla.

As four men forced him into car in the centre of Teziutlán, Ortega managed to send his family a WhatsApp messaging saying, “Help, red alert, I'm being kidnapped.” Thereafter the family spent seven tense hours before learning that he had been released alive.

After holding him and threatening him, Ortega's abductors dumped him in a ravine with his hands tied. Ortega finally managed to free himself and return home.

His abductors did not explain why they kidnapped Ortega, who reports for the RexRadio news website, but he received threats the previous day telling him not to cover the peace march. He had not previously been threatened in connection with his journalistic work.

Ortega told Reporters Without Borders: “My kidnappers put a trash bag over my head and took me to an isolated place outside town, where they contacted someone by radio and asked if they should kill me or just scare me. Then they put a gun to the back of my back, pushed me into a ravine and left me there with my hands tied.”

“We urge the authorities to provide Ortega and his family with protection,” said Reporters Without Borders deputy programme director Virginie Dangles. “If a journalist is kidnapped just for planning to cover a peace march, it shows to what point media personnel are often exposed to fear and threats in the course of the work.”

The Centre for Journalists' Rights (Casa de los Derechos de Periodistas) reported in 2012 that four journalists had received death threats in Puebla state. In August, Eduardo Martínez Calixto, the editor of Periódico
Noticias
, a local daily, accused the Teziutlán municipal authorities of trying to intimidate him after he ran a story about an alleged case of corruption involving the mayor.

Mexico is ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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