Facing Death Threats, Mexican Journalist Seeks Asylum; Justice for Myanmar Reporters

Feb. 23, 2018 – The U.S. government has agreed to reconsider the asylum petition of a Mexican journalist who faces near-certain death if he is forced to return to Mexico.

The decision by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals follows a campaign by more than 20 press freedom organizations, including the Guild, supporting Emilio Gutierrez’s request for asylum.

“I have a death sentence,” Gutierrez told a press conference in December. “They are waiting for me. As soon as I am deported, I will be killed.” He spoke by phone from the detention center where he is being held while his case is being adjudicated.

Gutierrez sought refuge in the U.S. nearly a decade ago, after Mexican military forces ransacked his home and after he was informed by a source that they were planning to kill him. His life is in danger because of his reporting in El Diario del Noroeste on looting, robbery and extortion by military officers in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Fearing for his life and the life of his 15-year-old son, Gutierrez presented himself and his son to authorities at the border in Antelope, New Mexico, where he asked for asylum.

In 2009, he was notified he would be allowed to remain in the U.S. while his case was reviewed, but in 2016 and 2017, Immigration Judge Robert Hough denied Gutierrez’s request for asylum.

Gutierrez’s appeal is pending.

Justice for Myanmar Reporters

Guild members have added our voices to calls to release two Reuters journalists who were detained in Myanmar in December simply for doing their jobs.

“We loudly echo the journalists who are vocal in supporting Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo: Journalism is not a crime,” The NewsGuild of New York wrote in a Jan. 11 statement. “Silencing the press is an abhorrent and an intolerable act of cowardice. We stand in solidarity with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.”

The NewsGuild of New York local represents employees at Reuters, although it does not represent foreign correspondents such as Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.