Mexican judge rules that neither journalist Carmen Aristegui nor MVS must pay damages in the case of her dismissal

A federal judge in Mexico said that MVS Radio's cancellation of the program of journalist Carmen Aristegui, which she hosted at ones of its stations for more than six years, was "illegal," according to the journalist’s lawyers.

The journalist's law firm announced that, in a ruling issued on July 14, Judge Guillermo Campos Osorio ruled that the company acted improperly by suspending the program "Noticias MVS Primera Emisión.”

Regarding the verdict, MVS Radio issued a statement today in which it does not refer to the cancellation of the news program, but indicates that the judge declared that it "legally terminated the journalist’s contract to host the radio program." It added that the ruling does not impose the payment of any compensation to Aristegui.

The broadcaster said the ruling could be appealed, but did not say whether it planned to do so.

"It’s likely they will do it," Aristegui said during the July 28 broadcast of her new show. "They have held suits that they themselves know are absolutely absurd, but they are part of a dynamic whose main purpose is to get a group of journalists off the air  - as they did - and keep them in this judicial scaffolding."

Aristegui was dismissed from MVS Radio on March 15 after she demanded the return of her colleagues Irving Huerta and Daniel Lizárraga who were dismissed from MVS and accused of abuse of trust for giving their support to the Méxicoleaks digital platform without authorization, the organization’s directors said at the time.

However, critics tied the dismissals to the journalists’ investigative report known as “La Casa Blanca de Peña Nieto,” which revealed an alleged conflict of interest between President Enrique Peña Nieto and a government contractor.

The ruling by Campos Osorio indicates that MVS Radio used the on-air announcement of Méxicoleaks as a pretext to end the morning news program, according to Aristegui’s lawyers.

They said the judge determined that neither Aristegui nor her collaborators acted in any illegal way, which is the reason the journalist will not have to pay any penalties to the radio chain.

On Jan. 16, Aristegui launched a new version of her traditional radio program “Aristegui En Vivo” via the internet.

In 2015, Aristegui submitted a complaint against the Mexican government for “obstruction of justice” related to her case with MVS to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). This was done after her petition to negotiate with the radio chain was dismissed by the Mexican justice system.

"It is our intention and our desire that the IACHR take our case as a case that may be a reference, not by us as individuals, but by the nature of the matter, to review why a state like Mexico did not allow a journalist to have an amparo trial like the one we pushed for," Aristegui said. "In our logic we have the right to a trial to claim our rights when freedom of expression is violated. We had and have the right to fight for our fundamental freedoms within the framework of Mexican justice."

At the time this post was published, Campos Osorio was not available for comment or to provide a copy of his ruling.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.