Sean Penn dismisses criticism of El Chapo interview

(File, AP)
(File, AP)

The American actor Sean Penn has dismissed criticism of his interview with Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, which authorities say helped them track down the world's most-wanted trafficker.

The pair was apparently followed and photographed as they set out for the meeting with Guzman at a hideout in rural Mexico in October.

"I've got nothin' to hide," Penn told the Associated Press news agency in a brief email exchange after images published on Monday indicated he was under surveillance when he met the Mexican actress who led him to Guzman.

Penn also shrugged off a suggestion that he was "taking hits" for agreeing to submit his article to Guzman prior to publication by Rolling Stone magazine.

Investigation opened

Mexican and US authorities said they are investigating the meeting between Guzman and Penn.

Arely Gomez, Mexican attorney general, said on Monday that an investigation had been opened into the meeting, adding that any possible criminal investigation against the actor-director would depend on what, if any, deals he struck with Guzman.

US investigators will also examine Penn's interactions with Guzman, two US government sources said, but it was unclear if prosecutors would try to force the actor to turn over information about the interview.

Guzman was arrested last week after a shoot-out in Los Mochis, six months after he escaped Mexico's most secure prison.

Five people were killed during the operation that caught Guzman, who has twice escaped from prison.

Gomez said while extraditing drug kingpins takes on average a year, it could take up to five years in Guzman's case.

Pressure is on

However, Al Jazeera's Adam Raney, reporting from Mexico City, said the government "is clearly keen to get El Chapo into the hands of US authorities".

"This is a dramatic turnaround from the last time they caught him in 2014 when they refused to extradite him," he said.

"The pressure is now on Mexican authorities to hold on to him long enough to make sure that extradition is successful."

Meanwhile, the media were granted access on Monday to the house where Guzman was holed up before his capture last week.

He had once escaped into a tunnel for a few hours, leaving behind a building full of bullet holes, bloodstains and decaying food.

Video footage released by authorities showed Mexican marines firing shots inside the house after they stormed through two doors to find 15 of Guzman's henchmen armed with machine guns and rocket launchers.

The military operation was dubbed Black Swan.

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