BY The Guardian

Mexican photojournalist found dead after abduction by armed men

A Mexican photographer who was abducted at gunpoint from his home has been found dead, the seventh journalist to be killed this year in one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media workers.

The body of Edgar Esqueda was found Friday morning near the airport in the industrial city of San Luis Potosí, some 200 miles (350 kilometres) north of Mexico City, according to local media.

Esqueda covered police and crime for the digital outlets Vox Populi SLP and Metrópoli SLP.

His family said he had been dragged from their home on Thursday morning by gunmen wearing police uniforms. The San Luis Potosí state attorney general’s office tweeted a statement saying its officers were not involved in any abduction.

Vox Populi SLP reported on its Facebook page that Esqueda’s hands had been bound and his body showed signs of torture.

Jan-Albert Hootsen, representative in Mexico for the Committee to protect journalists, said Esqueda had said he had been threatened by investigators over photos he had taken of a shootout.

State officials told the Associated Press no lines of investigation were being ruled out.

News outlets in San Luis Potosí reported that the photojournalist had reported the threats to the authorities.

“He was approached by five detectives [on 4 July] who threatened to take his camera and beat him up if continued taking photos,” according to a statement by a federal agency responsible for providing journalists with protection. “They made him erase material and ran him off.”

Esqueda was later confronted by state investigative police while covering another event 13 July and was asked to show his ID – which was photographed – and told by the officers that they would be watching him and his home, Mexican media reported.

The officers also suggested – without presenting proof – that Esqueda might be using his work to pass along information to criminals, the Associated Press reported.

Esqueda was the seventh journalist murdered in Mexico this year, according to CPJ. Four of those cases are confirmed to be related to the victims’ work as journalists.

In March, the reporter Miroslava Breach was murdered as she drove her eight-year old son to school in the northern city of Chihuahua. The gunmen left a note saying: “For being a loud-mouth.”

Soon afterwards, Norte, the Ciudad Juárez newspaper she contributed to, closed down; explaining the decision, its editor Oscar Cantú Murguia said in a statement “there are neither the guarantees nor the security to exercise critical, counterbalanced journalism.

In mid-May, Javier Valdéz, founder of the Sinaloa state newsweekly Ríodoce, was pulled from his car as he left his office in the northwestern city of Culiacán and shot 12 times at close range.

<iframe frameborder="0" src="https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-13/html/container.html" id="google_ads_iframe_/59666047/theguardian.com/world/article/ng_5" title="3rd party ad content" name="" scrolling="no" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" width="300" height="250" data-is-safeframe="true" style="display: none !important;"></iframe>

oth journalists investigated drug cartel issues, though Valdez always expressed uneasiness with the confluence of political corruption and organized crime.

As in many previous attacks on media workers in Mexico, both crimes remain unsolved an unpunished.

On Friday around 100 people, most of them journalists, joined a protest in San Miguel Potosí. Some waved signs reading: “No more dead journalists” and “Am I next?”

“It continues being a matter of impunity,” said Javier Garza, a journalist in the northern city of Torreón.

“After all the outrage [over Valdez’s murder], nothing happening. Anybody thinking about killing or kidnapping a journalist will say, ‘If they didn’t do anything with a high-profile person like Javier Valdez, then they won’t do anything in other cases.”

Mexico has registered 26,984 homicides in the first eight months of 2017, at 17 percent increase over the same period in 2016, according to government statistics.

San Luis Potosí state has boomed economically with the arrival of automotive investments in recent years, but also been plagued by drug cartel violence.

News of Esqueda’s murder came on the same day Mexico squares off in a World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad and Tobago in San Luis Potosí.