National Press Club

On World Press Freedom Day, media organizations call on U.S. government to free Mexican journalist

May 3, 2017 | By Kathy Kiely, NPCJI Press Freedom Fellow | kkiely@press.org

Our organizations -- the National Press Club Journalism Institute, Reporters without Borders, Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers, and the International Center for Journalists -- all working to advance press freedom in the United States and abroad, join in calling on the U.S. government to release Mexican journalist Martin Mendez from a detention facility in El Paso.

Today — World Press Freedom Day — marks the 87th day of Martin's incarceration.

This 26-year-old reporter's “crime?"

Exposing official corruption in his hometown of Acapulco and then, after he was threatened with death in a country that is one of the world's most dangerous for journalists, following the letter of law in making application for asylum in the United States.

Martin entered the United States through the port of El Paso accompanied by a U.S. immigration attorney. His application is supported by the widely respected Reporters Without Borders. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency agrees that Martin has a "credible fear" of returning to his country.

Yet ICE continues to detain him as a "flight risk" because he has insufficient ties to the community. This despite the fact that, in addition to his American lawyer, Martin has a U.S. citizen cousin, and dozens of professional and community organizations willing to support him.

This includes an offer of an unpaid internship from the Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers, which would allow him to practice his profession while he is waiting for final adjudication of his asylum claim.

Earlier this week, officials of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors hailed the risk-taking work of journalists working in hostile environments in Asia and Eastern Europe. We urge the U.S. government to be equally supportive of reporters who are fighting the same kinds of battles against corruption and harassment in its own hemisphere.

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is the non-profit professional and press freedom affiliate of the National Press Club, one of the nation’s oldest institutions for journalists; Reporters Without Borders is an international organization that advocates for press freedom; the Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers supports reporting along the U.S.-Mexico border; the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) empowers journalists and engages citizens with new technologies and best practices.

Contact:
Kathy Kiely, National Press Club Journalism Institute, kkiely@press.org
Delphine Halgand, Reporters Without Borders, delphine@rsf.org
Jorge Sierra, Border Center for Journalists and Bloggers, jsierra@icfj.org
Elisa Tinsley, International Center for Journalists, etinsley@icfj.org