Missing Mexican reporter under protection of government

New York, June 22, 2012–Mexican crime journalist Stephania Cardoso, who had been missing with her son since June 8, is now under the protection of the federal government, a Mexican official has told CPJ.

Cardoso, a reporter for the Saltillo-based daily Zócalo in the northern state of Coahuila, and her 2-year-old son are being kept under the protection of federal authorities in an undisclosed location for safety concerns, Laura Angelina Borbolla Moreno, the special prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression at the Attorney General’s Office, told CPJ on Thursday. Borbolla said Cardoso had allegedly been threatened by criminals but declined to comment on any possible motives.

Cardoso was reported missing by her mother two weeks ago, Zócalo Deputy Director Luis Mendoza López told CPJ. Mendoza told CPJ that Cardoso had covered crime for the paper for about two and a half years. CPJ’s review of Cardoso’s most recent work found stories about petty crimes and traffic accidents.

Cardoso and her son are in good health, Borbolla said. She said the federal authorities have launched an investigation into the threats.

“We are relieved that Stephania Cardoso and her son are safe and unharmed,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “We call on Mexican federal authorities to ensure that Cardoso can continue to report the news without fear of intimidation.”

Drug-related violence has made Mexico one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the press, according to CPJ research. More than 45 journalists have been killed or have disappeared since 2007.