The Committee to Protect Journalists is urging the U.S. government to release on bail Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez and his son, Oscar, held in prison since authorities rejected their asylum request.
In a letter sent to Head of the Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations William Joyce, the CPJ made the request on "humanitarian grounds" as a gesture of "significant public benefit."
CPJ Chief Joel Simon said Gutierrez and his son have lived on U.S. territory "without incidents" for nine years, while they were waiting for the decision on the asylum request, and therefore their detention was groundless.
Gutierrez fled from Mexico with his then 15-year-old son in June 2008. The 54-year-old correspondent had been working in Ascension, in northern Chihuahua state, for the Diario del Noroeste newspaper, based in Ciudad Juarez.
He had allegedly received death threats from the Mexican army following the publication of his report about a robbery committed in a hotel for immigrants by six military officers, in the city of Palomas, in 2005.
A few days later, General Alfonso Garcia Vega ordered Gutierrez to meet him in Asuncion. The general then told Gutierrez to stop writing articles that undermined the army, according to an interview Gutierrez gave to Mother Jones.
Gutierrez apologized, but three years later about 50 soldiers raided his house at night and he later received death threats.
Father and son were detained by U.S. immigration authorities and held in separate detention facilities in Texas for seven months before being released pending the outcome of the asylum hearing.
Last July, a U.S. court rejected all of the evidence presented by Gutierrez, whose case was defended with the support of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center based in El Paso.