MEXICO: Border journalist flees the country after violent attack

APRIL 14, 2007
Posted June 26, 2007

Claudio Tiznado, Géneros

Tiznado, an investigative reporter for the Hermosillo-based bimonthly publication Géneros, fled Mexico after two unidentified individuals beat him and warned him to stop writing.

Tiznado told CPJ that on the day of the attack an unidentified individual called his cell phone and asked to meet him in the outskirts of Hermosillo, a city in the northern state of Sonora, about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) northwest of Mexico City. Without providing details, the caller told Tiznado that he had further information on a story the journalist had been investigating.

Two unidentified individuals in a pickup truck arrived at the meeting point and asked Tiznado if he was the journalist. The two men stepped off the vehicle, grabbed the journalist, beat him until he was unconscious, put him in the back of the truck, and drove to a nearby building, Tiznado told CPJ. There, he said, the men kicked him and beat him with sticks. When Tiznado fell to the ground, one of the men pointed a gun to his head while the other said “let’s leave him like this so he stops writing.” Tiznado told CPJ that after the two men left, a passerby took him to a local hospital, where he received treatment for several injuries.

Tiznado said he believes that the attack is linked to an article published two weeks earlier in Géneros, linking local politicians to drug trafficking. The journalist began receiving death threats after the publication of the article. Género’s director, Fernando Barragán, told CPJ that unidentified individuals also called his cell phone at least three times in April and threatened him with death if he was not careful about the news that he published.

On April 17, after Saúl Noé Martínez Ortega, a crime reporter for the newspaper Interdiario in nearby Agua Prieta was kidnapped by armed men, Tiznado informed authorities about the attack. Martínez was found murdered on April 23. Fearing for his life, Tiznado said he decided to flee the country.

The journalist told CPJ that he left for the United States on May 1 and applied for political asylum that same day. Barragán said that local authorities are investigating the politicians that Tiznado said had links to local drug traffickers. Barragán, who has not received new threats since Tiznado left the country, told CPJ that he believes Tiznado would be in grave danger if he returned to Mexico.