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Individual infiltrates home security system to threaten journalist

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, July 30, 2012 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by a death threat made Sunday against Lydia Cacho, the Mexican investigative reporter and author, and calls on federal authorities to launch a thorough investigation.

Cacho told CPJ the threat was delivered over the security system set up in her home in Cancun. Cacho has been the target of numerous threats in the past, prompting special security measures.

Cacho said an unfamiliar voice came over the system's speaker on Sunday, warning her "not to mess with us" or "we will send you home in little pieces." Her security consultants believe the individual had used advanced technology to gain access to the system.

"This threat is the latest in a long line of efforts to intimidate Lydia Cacho, one of Mexico's most prominent reporters," said Carlos Lauria, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "The delivery of the threat over her own emergency communication system should be particularly alarming to Mexican authorities, who must ensure her safety."

Cacho is an award-winning investigative journalist, human rights defender, and columnist for the daily Mexico City-based El Universal. Her latest book, titled "Slaves of Power", follows the trail of international human traffickers and their victims around the globe.

Cacho has faced threats and harassment since the 2004 publication of her book, "The Demons of Eden", which described the activities of a child prostitution ring that she said operated with the complicity of local police and politicians. The book sparked a criminal defamation complaint that, while ultimately dismissed, led to her brief detention. In 2009, as threats against her life continued, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on the Mexican government to provide protection for Cacho. In 2011, CPJ urged the administration of President Felipe Calderon Hinojosa to intervene in the ongoing campaign of intimidation.

Cacho described her life under threat in a 2009 piece on the CPJ Blog. In the piece, Cacho explained her resolve: "To stay alive without fleeing the country, when there is no justice in our own land, there is nothing left but to stand up for the whole world to see us, to remind friends and foes that freedom is not gained by kneeling or in silence."

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