Mexican journalist's sentence overturned

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

His Excellency Francisco Javier Barrio Terrazas, Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of the United Mexican States
45 O’Connor Street, Suites 1000 and 1030
Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4

May 24, 2011

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is greatly concerned for the safety of journalist Jesús Lemus Barajas, who was released from prison on May 11, 2011 after his sentence was overturned due to a lack of evidence. It was feared that charges against Mr. Lemus had been fabricated and that his imprisonment was a direct result of his work.
Mr. Lemus is now planning to go into exile.

Mr. Lemus, publisher of the Piedad local newspaper El Tiempo, was arrested on May 7, 2008 while investigating drug trafficking routes in Cuerámaro, Guanajuato. He was accused of involvement with the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana. Mr. Lemus was beaten and detained incommunicado for 48 hours by state police who transferred him to a federal prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco state, on May 27, 2008. Mr. Lemus remained in police custody and received a prison sentence of 20 years in January 2011. The ruling was overturned on appeal on May 11, 2011.

While imprisoned, Mr. Lemus’ wife faced harassment, including having their home searched without a warrant in July 2008 and again in August 2010. The three lawyers responsible for defending Mr. Lemus in court were shot and killed on Agusut 31, 2009, with no clear motive established for their murders.

Mr. Lemus has expressed concern for his safety if he remains in Mexico, and intends to apply for asylum in the United States.

CJFE respectfully requests that the Mexican government establish a full inquiry into the wrongful imprisonment of Jesús Lemus Barajas and the murder of Vladimir Camacho Guzmán, Rubén Emmanuel Castro and Gilberto Estrada and ensure that all journalists are able to conduct their work without fear of reprisal.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Mr.Guillermo E. Rishchynski, Ambassador of Canada to the United Mexican States;
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs