BY the Guardian

Reporter's body found in Mexico

The body of a missing Mexican reporter has been found in the western state of Michoacán, bringing to seven the number of journalists murdered in the country this year.

Salvador Adame, director of the local television station 6TV, was abducted 18 May in the city of Nueva Italia, some 400km west of Mexico City in a region known as Tierra Caliente, or the Hot Lands.

State officials said on Monday that Adame’s burnt remains had been located on 14 June near Nuevo Italia, and were identified with DNA testing.

Over the past decade, Michoacán – and especially the Tierra Caliente region – has seen horrific levels of violence between organized crime groups and the security forces.

It was one of the first states to be targeted by the government’s militarized war on drugs , and more recently became the setting for a new conflict between the cartels and vigilante groups – which in turn were often co-opted by the federal government or the criminals they purported to oppose.

Adame’s family and friends told the Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ) that he avoided reporting on drug cartels, but he did cover local politics, often critically.

Local police detained Adame and his wife in 2016 for covering a protest outside city hall. The harassment of journalists by public officials is common in Mexico, according to press freedom groups.

At least four of the reporters killed this year were murdered in direct retaliation for their work, according to the CPJ, making Mexico most dangerous country in the hemisphere for media workers.

Javier Valdez, founder of the muckraking newsweekly Ríodoce in Culiacán, was pulled from his vehicle as he drove away from his office and executed in broad daylight on 15 May.

None of killings have so far been solved – an indication of the authorities’ crushing lack of interest in resolving such cases.

Prosecutors initially suggested that Adame could have been the victim of a personal dispute. State prosecutor José Martín Godoy told reporters that a suspect detained 21 June said that the boss of a local cartel had ordered Adame’s death over a perceived insult. Godoy also attributed the murder to “personal problems” – a commonly offered motive in complicated criminal cases, according to critics.

“There’s been a tendency by the authorities to disqualify either the victim’s work as a journalist, or focus on personal issues and such as the possible motive, even if there are clear signs that the victim’s work as a reporter was in fact the motive,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ correspondent in Mexico.

President Enrique Peña Nieto has promised to defend press freedom and in May replaced the head of a poor-performing prosecutor’s office for investigation of crimes against the media.

But Adame’s death comes as the president fends off accusation that his administration spied on journalists and activists by infecting their smartphones with spyware.

Peña Nieto denied spying and later threatened legal action against those accusing the government of espionage. His spokesman later told the New York Times the president had misspoken.