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Martin Méndez Pineda, a Mexican journalist seeking asylum from death threats in his country, has been in detention in the US since February 5th, 2017. Photo: RSF

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Paris, France — International press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders concerned about the state of Martin Méndez Pineda's mental and physical health.

Martin, a Mexican journalist seeking asylum from death threats in his country, has been in detention in the US since February 5th, 2017.

On May 4th, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) denied for the second time his request to be released under parole, on the grounds that he does not have "substantial ties to the community."

On the contrary, Martin has received an exceptional outpouring of support from the El Paso community, including from a local priest who has put his residence at Martin's disposal should he be freed, as well as multiple journalism and press freedom organizations who have expressed grave concern over Martin's detention, and have rallied behind his release.

We are shocked and saddened by ICE's decision, but filled with more resolve after reading Martin's letter from detention. The following is an excerpt from his experience:

"I have seen discrimination, abuse and humiliation from the very first day I set foot in this place. They transferred me to a detention center called West Texas Detention Facility located in the city of Sierra Blanca, Texas. In this place, I experienced the worst days of my life. It is known by the detainees as "el gallinero" (the henhouse) since the barracks resemble a stable for livestock or chickens, designed for approximately 60 people but currently housing more than 100 individuals, who are exposed to all kinds of diseases and who don't have access to adequate medical attention.

"The henhouse" of Sierra Blanca is small, with metal bunks, worn-out rubber mattresses, wooden floors, bathrooms with the walls covered in green and yellow mold, weeds everywhere and snakes and rats that come in at night. The guards look at the detainees with disgust on their faces and everything you say to them is ignored. There is very little food and all they tell you is that it is enough to survive. It is martyrdom to land in this place. Honestly, it is hell."

RSF said they are "extremely concerned about the state of Martin's mental and physical health, and we need your support in order to advocate effectively for him. Sign the petition and donate today, and help us build the financial strength to fight for Martin's freedom".

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