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on the border line between the US and Mexico

Friday, May 7, 2010

Journalists Arrested for Filming Mexican Official’s House

Three employees of the Mexican online publication Reporte Indigo were released on Thursday after spending 20 hours in custody for shooting footage of a house in Mexico City owned by Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, authorities said.

Cameraman Carlos Alberto Salazar Ortiz, photographer Carlos Angel Fernandez and driver Marco Flores were released around 11:00 a.m., sources in the Attorney General’s Office told Efe.

The men were granted “freedom under reserve,” the sources said, implying that the investigation will continue, though no charges have been filed.

Garcia Luna’s department said Wednesday that the three men “were watching the wife and two young children of the federal Public Safety Secretary.”

That statement prompted an indignant response from Reporte Indigo editor Ramon Alberto Garza, who told MVS radio that authorities acted “fraudulently and in bad faith” by failing to identify the men as journalists working on a story.

Garza blasted the government for “referring to the men as suspected criminals” and said Reporte Indigo would file a complaint on the grounds that the men’s rights were violated.

The official version of the incident is “absolutely false” because the journalists identified themselves and were later not allowed to call the Reporte Indigo office, their editor told MVS.

“There was never any physical or visual contact with any person close to (the family), or with the family or any part of the house,” Garza said.

“I believe the videos are there, the photographs. They took the cameras and can say there are no images of any member of the family or any harassment,” Garza said.

“Our people were simply going by and taking some photos of the neighborhood from a public street, and that’s all that happened,” the Reporte Indigo editor said.

A spokesman for the Public Safety Secretariat told Efe Thursday that two investigations have been under way since last year into death threats against Garcia Luna emanating from the Sinaloa drug cartel and other criminal organizations.

Garza said his reporters were looking into Garcia Luna because there “are many things that are not clear” in his official financial statement.

A story will be published on Friday about the Cabinet secretary, who owns both the house in the Jardines de la Montaña district, where the journalists were arrested, and another property in Morelos state.

Investigators from the AG office plan to analyze the photographs and video taken by the Reporte Indigo employees in the vicinity of the secretary’s home.

Garcia Luna has headed the Public Safety Secretariat since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006.

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