October 20, 2008

Lic. Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos
Residencia Oficial de los Pinos Casa Miguel Alemán
Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C.P. 11850, México D.F.
Fax: +52 55 50 93 49 01

Lic. Eduardo Medina- Mora Icaza
Procurador General de la Républica
Av. Paseo de la Reforma #211-213, Piso 16
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Del. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06500, México D.F.
Fax: +52 55 53 46 09 08

Lic. Octavio Alberto Orellana Wiarco
Fiscal Especial para la Atención de Delitos Comeditos contra Periodistas
Procuradoria General de la República
Av. Paseo de la Reforma #211-213
Col. Cuauhtémoc, Del. Cuauhtémoc, C.P. 06500, México D.F.
Fax: +52 55 53 46 09 08

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our grave concern regarding the murder of newspaper editor Miguel Angel Villagómez.

According to our information, Miguel Angel Villagómez Valle, publisher of the daily regional tabloid newspaper Noticias de Michoacán, was kidnapped and shot after leaving his office in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, Michoacán State, on the night of October 9, 2008. Police found Villagómez’s body the next day on a refuse pile about 50 km away, in the state of Guerrero. Although the motive is not yet known, the murder may be linked to his work as a journalist since Noticias de Michoacán often reports on organized crime, corruption and drug trafficking. Villagómez reportedly received a threatening phone call from a member of a drug trafficking group known as “The Zetas” about a month before his murder, and warned his family to be alert. The state police have not yet reported any suspects or leads.

PEN American Center is shocked by the abduction and murder of Miguel Angel Villagómez Valle and therefore respectfully calls on federal authorities, including the Special Prosecutor on Crimes against Journalists, to carry out a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the killing of Villagómez and all other unsolved murders of journalists, and to ensure those responsible are brought to justice. We also urge the government to prioritize the development of legislation that will make crimes against journalists a federal offense, which it has pledged to submit in draft form by January 2009.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Hannah Pakula                   
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006

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