Reporter flees home following alleged threatsfrom the military

JUNE 14, 2008

Posted July 14, 2008

Emilio Gutiérrez Soto, El Diario del Noroeste

Gutiérrez, correspondent for the Ciudad Juárez-based daily El Diario del Noroeste in the city of Ascensión, left his home in the northern state of Chihuahua following harassment and alleged threats from members of the Mexican army.

According to several articles published in El Diario del Noroeste, on June 14, members of the Mexican army followed Gutiérrez during his daily activities. Gutiérrez told the paper that later that day a reliable source advised him to leave the city immediately because “there is a plan to kill you.” Fearing for his life and the safety of his 14-year-old son, Gutiérrez decided to leave Ascención and cross the border to the United States.

According to the national daily La Jornada, on May 5, more than 50 hooded army members forced their way into Gutiérrez’s house and searched the premises. Gutiérrez said he was continuously followed in the days that followed. Gutiérrez, a reporter with 20 years of experience, told La Jornada that he believed the harassment was retaliation for several articles he had published detailing military irregularities in the area.

On June 17, Secretary of the Interior Juan Camilo Mouriño announced that the incident would be investigated. He said authorities “will take the necessary measures to stop this harassment, if it is happening,” reported El Diario del Noroeste.

Gutiérrez reportedly filed a request for political asylum in the United States the day he arrived. Carlos Spector, Gutiérrez’s lawyer, told local reporters that the journalist and his son are being held at two separate facilities in El Paso, Texas, while they await a decision from U.S. immigration authorities.