August 1, 2010 in Nation/World

Kidnapped journalists freed

Drug gangs demanded airing of videos by national network
Olga R. Rodriguez Associated Press
Associated Press photo

News cameramen Alejandro Hernandez, front right, and Javier Canales, third from right, are escorted by federal police as they arrive at federal police headquarters in Mexico City on Saturday after being rescued from kidnappers.
(Full-size photo)

MEXICO CITY – Federal police rescued two kidnapped news cameramen in northern Mexico on Saturday, five days after they were seized by drug traffickers in a bid to get their employers to broadcast cartel messages.

Local journalists in Mexico have long been under siege from drug traffickers, but Monday’s kidnapping of journalists with national television networks, including the nation’s largest, Televisa, shocked many Mexicans.

Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said Javier Canales of Milenio Multimedia Television and Alejandro Hernandez of Televisa were freed before dawn Saturday in the city of Gomez Palacio, where the men had been held in a residential area.

Garcia Luna said the Sinaloa drug cartel was responsible for the abductions and that the kidnappers escaped.

“What this criminal group sought … was the transmission of organized crime messages that would have an impact on the community,” Garcia Luna said.

Shortly after the abductions, the kidnappers demanded that the journalists’ employers broadcast videos of two police officers and two civilians being interrogated and accusing officials of favoring the rival Zetas drug gang.

Milenio Television on Tuesday aired the three short videos.

The cameramen were abducted along with a Televisa reporter after leaving a prison where they had covered a protest.

The reporter, Hector Gordoa, was freed Thursday, Garcia Luna said.

Garcia Luna said the federal police decided to raid the house after the kidnappers failed to free the cameramen.

Hernandez said his captors tortured them physically and psychologically.

“All day and all night, they would intimidate us,” Hernandez said.

Canales said their kidnappers also threatened to hurt their families.

“I want to thank God that we’re here. You can say we were born again,” Canales said. “It was all very sad.”

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