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Ecuador21 May 2007

President urged to drop "insults" complaint against journalist

Mr Rafael Correa
President of Ecuador

Dear Mr President,

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed at the lawsuit you filed on 10 May against managing editor Francisco Vivanco of the daily paper La Hora accusing him of “insulting” you in an editorial the day before. If convicted, he faces between six months and two years in prison under article 230 of the criminal code as well as a heavy fine.

Vivanco criticised you in the editorial for “ruling in a frantic manner, with sticks and stones,” as shown by recent clashes between government and opposition supporters. You asked him to publicly apologise in return for dropping the lawsuit but he refused.

We think the charge of “insulting the president” because of the editorial is very excessive and we deplore the fact that such a charge, which belongs to another era, is punishable by imprisonment. In a democracy, politicians can by definition be publicly criticised. If Vivanco is convicted, it will be a dangerous precedent for Ecuador’s journalists. We are also concerned about your recent description of the media as “corrupt and mediocre.”

We ask you, for the sake of freedom of expression and editorial diversity, to drop your lawsuit against Vivanco.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Ménard

In this country
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22 January - Ecuador
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15 December - Ecuador
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Journalist serving six-month sentence for slandering ex-mayor now being sued for a million dollars
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in the annual report
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