Owner of Mexican news outlet who was threatened for his reporting killed in Tabasco

New York, February 22, 2016–Mexican journalist Moisés Dagdug Lutzow, who owned media company Grupo VX, was stabbed to death in his home in Villahermosa, Tabasco state, Saturday, local news reports said. Dagdug presented a weekly program for the company’s television station TVX.

Dagdug’s murder comes as at least one journalist has been killed in direct retaliation for his work in Mexico this year. CPJ is also investigating the motive behind a third murder case.

Assailants stabbed Dagdug before fleeing in the journalist’s vehicle, according to local news reports. His vehicle and a knife that may have been used in the attack were found abandoned on a highway about 15 kilometers away. Witnesses said they saw two individuals flee from the vehicle, according to reports.

Angel Antonio Jiménez, the director of news for Grupo VX, told CPJ he called police and the journalist’s sister after hearing a loud noise while in the station’s offices, which are opposite Dagdug’s home, at about 7 a.m. Jiménez said the noise was Dagdug’s vehicle being driven through the closed gate of his property. He told CPJ investigators had been given footage from the news outlet’s security cameras that show two men driving the vehicle through the gates after fleeing from Dagdug’s house.

“Federal authorities must take decisive action to combat the grave press freedom crisis facing Mexico,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “This means vigorously investigating Moisés Dagdug Lutzow’s murder and considering all possible motives, including that he might have been killed in reprisal for his work.”

The Tabasco state attorney general released a statement Saturday saying it was investigating the murder. A representative from the attorney general’s office told CPJ that officials in charge of the case were unavailable for immediate comment.

Dagdug, who presented the weekly news analysis program “De Frente a Tabasco” (Facing Tabasco), reported on local politics and sensitive social issues, including a recent spate of violence and vigilante killings in Tabasco, Jiménez told CPJ. In a January 5 episode, Dagdug denounced threats received for his critical editorial line. He said politicians in Tabasco were not used to being criticized and that despite receiving threats he was not afraid and “will keep reporting.”

Jiménez told CPJ that Dagdug had not reported the threats to authorities. He added that the journalist’s house was broken into twice last year, and that laptops and computers were taken. Jimenez added that the journalist had recently updated security features to his home.

Dagdug had been a member of the House of Representatives with the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution from 2006-2009.

Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work as a journalist, according to CPJ research. Since 1992, at least 36 journalists have been killed there for their work. Mexico ranked eighth on CPJ’s 2015 Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are murdered and their assailants go free.