There have been no classified diplomatic cables. No top-secret intelligence reports. No fugitive whistleblowers.

And yet Mexico's latest experiment in free speech, the new Web site MexicoLeaks, has already generated its own media mini-tempest.

The controversy started when one of the site's founders, the renowned radio and television journalist Carmen Aristegui, used the name of her network, Noticias MVS, when announcing the launch of the site this week. It asks people to anonymously submit documents that might shed light on Mexico's government corruption problem.


Protests are taking place against the dismissal of journalists Daniel Lizarraga and Irving Huerta. (Reuters)

That prompted a quick backpedaling by MVS, which claimed it didn't know about the site and had nothing to do with it. That was followed by an online wave of support for Aristegui, a recalibrating of MVS's position and lots of editorializing in the Mexican media.

That might have been the end of it, but then yesterday, MVS announced the firing of two of its journalists who worked on the MexicoLeaks project: Daniel Lizarraga and Irving Huerta. MVS said on its Web site that managers had "lost confidence" in the reporters and that it was unacceptable that they had formed such an alliance without higher-ups' knowledge or authorization. Aristegui said she "categorically rejects" their sacking. MVS's ombudsman, Gabriel Sosa Plata, called the company's response disproportionate and a pressure tactic.

Meanwhile, the Twitter hashtag #endefensadearistegui (in defense of Aristegui) took off, with people questioning the cozy ties between Mexican media and the government. Online petitions started up on change.org to keep Aristegui on the air and for her to be president.

"The voice of Carmen Aristegui is important and necessary," Elisa Alanis wrote in El Universal.

Last fall, Aristegui and her investigative team broke a big story that President Enrique Peña Nieto's wife, former actress Angelica Rivera, owned a luxurious house in Mexico City purchased by a prominent government contracting firm. It was later revealed that the finance minister also bought a home through the firm.

MexicoLeaks was launched by a group of media outlets and civil society groups, including the news magazine Proceso and the Web site Animal Politico, to break more of these types of stories. That its very existence has generated this much discussion in Mexico might ultimately help their cause.