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Mexico24 June 2008

Deputy editor of daily brutally beaten at his office, another journalist driven into exile

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a vicious beating meted out to Luis Pablo Guardado Negrete, deputy director of the regional daily Noticias de Bahia, based in Bahia de Banderas, Nayarit state in western Mexico.

The worldwide press freedom organisation also voiced dismay after Emilio Gutierrez Soto, of the daily El Diario del Noroeste in Ascension, Chihuahua state in the north was forced to go into exile in the United States on 15 June after men believed to be soldiers repeatedly followed him and threatened to kill him.

Guardado Negrete was accosted by two individuals as he arrived at the headquarters of the Noticias de Bahia, on 21 June, who pretended that they wanted to buy him a car. Once inside the building, they closed the door and began attacking the journalist, beating him with a car amplifier and a toilet lid, before trying to strangle him with a shirt-tail.

His assailants tried to get him to name the author and the source of an article published the previous week that implicated the owner of a local gym in a sex scandal. The deputy editor finally managed to take refuge in the toilets where he hid until the two men left. He needed hospital treatment for a double fracture of the jaw and a 12-centimetre cut to his left arm apparently inflicted by a knife.

His brother, Lenin Guardado, told Reporters Without Borders that his two attackers had been successfully identified.

Emilio Gutierrez Soto, of the daily El Diario del Noroeste in Ascension, was driven into exile in El Paso, Texas, on 15 June after receiving death threats believed to come from members of the military. The paper’s management said that the journalist and his son had applied for asylum in the United States.

Around 50 soldiers illegally searched the journalist’s home on 5 May, after breaking down the door while the journalist and his son were asleep. Nothing was taken during the raid. Gutierrez Soto said he had been regularly watched and followed, possibly by soldiers out of uniform.

“If it is confirmed that Guardado Negrete’s attackers have been identified, we hope that they will be found and promptly arrested”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “This case proves, if indeed it was necessary, that journalists are just as much in danger at their own place of work and that editorial offices should be properly monitored.”

“As for the exile of Gutierrez Soto, we urge the federal government to open an investigation among the ranks of the army and in the meantime that the US authorities provide him with permission to remain in the country”.

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