Hearing for detained Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez set for Feb. 26

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February 9, 2018 By Wire staff report wire@press.org

An asylum appeal hearing for detained Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez has been set for Feb. 26 but could be pushed back to March.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

An asylum hearing for detained Mexican journalist Emilio Gutierrez has been set for Feb. 26, although it could be pushed back to March.

Gutierrez and his son Oscar have been confined at an El Paso, Texas, detention facility since Dec. 7 after an attempt by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport them was halted by the Bureau of Immigration Appeals.

In December, the bureau agreed to review the case. Gutierrez's lawyer, Eduardo Beckett, is seeking an extension of the Feb. 26 hearing until the end of March because of other cases he has pending.

Emilio, the Club's 2017 John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Award winner, and Oscar have committed no crime but have been behind bars for about 60 days with the prospect of three to four more months to come.

Although it sounds encouraging that the appeal will be heard by the end of March, it takes the board several months to then deliberate and discuss the case. Emilio and Oscar will remain in detention until a decision is reached.

The National Press Club and other press freedom organizations have called for Gutierrez's release while the appeal is pending.

Public sentiment for Gutierrez remains high. The online petition at Change.org started by the Club now stands at more than 97,000 signatures.

Launched at the Club’s first news conference for Gutierrez on Dec. 11, the petition garnered 18,000 signatures by Dec. 22 and is now nearing 100,000. The effort to release Gutierrez is using the hashtag #FreeEmilio.

As his case proceeds, National Press Club Journalism Institute Press Freedom Fellow Kathy Kiely has contacted Rutgers Law School, which is considering writing an Amicus Brief for the case and will help Beckett develop a Habeas case if the matter goes to federal court.

Annika Srindharan, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Partnerships for Trauma Recovery, visited Gutierrez last week. The Berkeley, Calif.-based non-profit is working with journalists and other, such as refugees, to assess trauma related to displacement and other issues.

They are writing a report that may be used in Emilio’s appeal. Their executive director will be at the Club in early March for a news conference to discuss their findings and to learn more about the impact of the incarceration Gutierrez is enduring. Sindharan heard about him by listening to a radio show where Kiely was a guest.

Also last week Kate Linthicum of the LA Times published a a story about Gutierrez's case.

Linthicum is based in Mexico and visited Gutierrez in detention in El Paso. This story followed him and another reporter who is in a protection program in Mexico. It showed that the program described by the U.S. courts as the solution to all of Gutierrez's concerns for his safety in Mexico is really not a solution at all.

The journalist in Mexico is living in a small apartment in an unfamiliar city and has to stay inside all day. He can only go out for short stretches and has to take many precautions. Even then he does not feel safe and is constantly worried he will be killed. It is clear he is in a kind of prison as well. Linthicum’s story ran in the Times and also appeared in the San Diego Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle.

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