Mexican star journalist`s firing sparks outrage

Mexicans awakened Monday without the familiar radio voice of a prominent journalist who revealed the first lady`s controversial mansion.

Mexico City: Mexicans awakened Monday without the familiar radio voice of a prominent journalist who revealed the first lady`s controversial mansion.

Carmen Aristegui, a fixture of morning broadcasts, was fired by MVS Radio late Sunday after a public feud with her employer over the dismissal of two of her investigative reporters.

Her firing became the top trending topic on Twitter in Mexico, with supporters calling on users to unfollow MVS`s account over what they consider an affront to freedom of speech.

Aristegui showed up Monday in front of MVS`s Mexico City headquarters, where she was greeted by a dozen cheering supporters.

Vowing to fight back, she warned that her lawyers said her firing was wrong and a violation of freedom of speech.

Aristegui said her country "is seeing an authoritarian wind and an ominous sign of something that we have to avoid."

"This team of journalists is committed to fighting for freedom of speech," she said, adding that her firing appeared to have been planned well in advance, "with much resources and much power."

MVS said it parted ways with Aristegui because she had conditioned her staying with the broadcaster on the company reinstating her two reporters, and the company could not accept such "conditions and ultimatums."

MVS said the two journalists had been fired for using the company`s name without permission in their participation in MexicoLeaks, a website created by civic groups and other media outlets to receive leaked documents showing acts of corruption.Aristegui`s investigative team revealed last year that President Enrique Pena Nieto`s wife, former soap opera star Angelica Rivera, had bought a Mexico City mansion from a government contractor.

The story sparked allegations of conflict of interest, which the president denied, adding more headaches to Pena Nieto as he faced protests over the presumed massacre of 43 missing college students.

Aristegui said her two fired colleagues had been investigating the sale of a house to Finance Minister Luis Videgaray by a government contractor as well as the alleged summary execution of gang suspects by soldiers.

Pena Nieto`s spokesman could not be reached for comment about Aristegui`s sacking.Her supporters swiftly voiced their discontent on social media, with the hashtag #InDefenseOfAristegui2 (#EndefensadeAristegui2).

"Carmen Aristegui is an essential voice in our public life. Her departure from MVS seriously damages freedom of speech in Mexico," leading historian Enrique Krauze wrote on Twitter.

Renowned political scientist Denise Dresser immediately announced she would no longer appear on MVS while actor Diego Luna lamented Aristegui`s firing.

"What sadness that from tomorrow @AristeguiOline will not have a space in this country that demands plurality and voices that challenge us," Luna tweeted.

Leftist Senator Alejandro Encinas called it a "hard blow for the kind of journalism our country needs."

The radio station`s website was briefly hacked on Saturday, with a message apologizing for the firing of Aristegui`s two journalists.

Aristegui, who also works for CNN`s Spanish-language channel, had been fired once before by MVS during her six-year stint at the radio station.

She was dismissed in 2011 after demanding a government reaction after a lawmaker accused then president Felipe Calderon, without proof, of having a drinking problem.

MVS said she had been fired for violating ethics, but she claimed that her sacking stemmed from pressure from the presidency.

This time, MVS said it "fully exercises freedom of expression" and would continue to provide critical coverage, but that it could not tolerate "individualistic attitudes" from employees.

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