Mexican president says U.S.'s Blinken 'misinformed' on journalist killings

Mexico's president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, gestures during a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, February 10, 2022. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

MEXICO CITY, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday snapped back at U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken after he expressed concern over a spate of journalist killings in Mexico, saying that Blinken was misinformed.

Blinken, in a Twitter post on Tuesday, said he joined "those calling for greater accountability and protections for Mexican journalists."

"What he's saying is not true," Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference. "Of course, it's very unfortunate that there are murders of journalists. ... In all cases we're doing something about it, there is no impunity, these are not state crimes."

A string of Mexican journalists have been killed this year, prompting U.S. lawmakers to pressure Mexico to step up protections. read more

"The high number of journalists killed in Mexico this year and the ongoing threats they face are concerning," Blinken said in his Twitter post.

"My heart goes out to the loved ones of those who gave their lives for the truth," said Blinken.

According to human rights organization Article 19, around 145 journalists were killed in Mexico from 2000 to 2021, making it one of the deadliest countries in the world for people involved in such work.

"He is misinformed because otherwise he would be acting in bad faith," said Lopez Obrador, who on Monday urged the U.S. government to stop funding groups in Mexico that are critical of his administration.

Lopez Obrador called that financial support a "shame" and a breach of Mexico's sovereignty. read more

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard later shared on Twitter a letter he sent to Blinken, highlighting illegal firearms trafficked from the United States which he said may be used in the murder of journalists.

"Mexico and the United States have a mechanism for dialogue and cooperation ... in which we advance on various topics of interest such as the illicit trafficking of firearms, which are used in most of the homicides committed in Mexico, and that presumably were also used against journalists," Ebrard said in the letter.

The Mexican government launched a lawsuit last year against several American arms manufacturers, alleging they knew their practices had encouraged illegal arms trafficking into Mexico, helping to cause thousands of gangland deaths. The arms industry has rejected Mexico's allegations. read more

Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Raul Cortes Fernandez; Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Leslie Adler

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