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Mexican leader says US misinformed on journalist killings

February 24, 2022 GMT
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)
FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks during a ceremony to commemorate in Mexico City's main square the Zocalo, Aug. 13, 2021. President Lopez Obrador said Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, that high profile journalists like Jorge Ramos of Univision and Carmen Aristigui, one of Mexico´s most recognized journalists, should make the information of their salaries available to the public. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken must be misinformed about threats facing journalists in Mexico, reacting to a message of sympathy from the U.S. official.

Five journalists have been killed so far this year in Mexico and Blinken sent a tweet Tuesday night saying, “The high number of journalists killed in Mexico this year and the ongoing threats they face are concerning.”

“I join those calling for greater accountability and protections for Mexican journalists. My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who gave their lives for the truth,” he added.

López Obrador appeared to take the comment as a criticism of Mexico’s efforts to probe such crimes and protect journalists — a group with which he has been sparring of late.

“It’s not true,” López Obrador said. “In all cases (the government) is acting. There is no impunity for state crimes.”

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Later, López Obrador suggested that perhaps Blinken received bad information from other U.S. agencies, mentioning the CIA, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration.

“They’re tricking him,” he said. “We don’t tolerate the impunity of anyone.”

He said he would have his foreign affairs ministry provide Blinken with information on all of the recent killings.

Late Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard shared a letter he said he sent to Blinken, noting that six people had so far been arrested in three of the recent journalist killings. He also suggested, without sharing any evidence, that weapons purchased in the United States and then smuggled into Mexico, could have been used to kill journalists.

That north-to-south weapons smuggling is one of Mexico’s top issues in the bilateral relationship. It is suing U.S. gun manufacturers in U.S. federal court.

Mexico’s undersecretary of the interior for human rights, Alejandro Encinas, has said that the impunity rate in the killings of journalists and human rights activists is above 90%.

Early in his administration López Obrador appeared to enjoy jousting with reporters in his daily briefings, but as critical reporting of his administration increased, his attacks have grown more pointed, especially against several high-profile journalists who have questioned aspects of his administration.

On Wednesday, he said journalists “lie like they breathe.”