New York, May 29, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release today of Mexican journalist Pedro Celestino Canché Herrera, who had been imprisoned on charges of sabotage in the state of Quintana Roo since August. A local court on Thursday declared Canché innocent of the charges and ordered him to be released, Canché’s lawyer, Maria Araceli Andrade Tomala, told CPJ.
“We are relieved that Pedro Celestino Canché Herrera’s ordeal is over and welcome his release after almost nine months of unjust imprisonment,” said Sara Rafsky, CPJ’s Americas research associate. “Mexico is already one of the most dangerous countries for the press. Authorities should ensure that journalists do not face the additional threat of imprisonment or state retaliation.”
Canché, an independent journalist and activist for Mayan causes, was accused of personally directing protesters to block access to the Quintana Roo state water and sewage commission in the municipality of Felipe Carrillo Puerto on August 11, according to news reports. The journalist, who had previously written about and posted videos of the protests on Twitter and YouTube, denied being present that day, his lawyer told CPJ. Canché had also been harshly critical in his posts of the state governor, Roberto Borge. Mexico appeared in CPJ’s 2014 prison census for the first time since 2006 and was the only country in the Americas–besides Cuba–to be included. Violence tied to organized crime has made Mexico one of the most dangerous countries in the world for the press over the course of the past decade, CPJ research shows.