After international outcry, Ecuador's president drops libel sentences against El Universo newspaper, "Big Brother" authors

After international outcry, on Monday, Feb. 27, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa announced his decision to pardon journalists in the $40 million libel suit against the newspaper El Universo, its three owners and a former newspaper columnist, who were facing three years in prison. The president also dismissed the fine against the authors of a book detailing the president's alleged acts of nepotism, reported the Associated Press.

In a 40-minute message, President Correa said that the commuting of the sentences "was deserved, even by the company El Universo; I have also decided to drop the lawsuit against the authors of the book 'Big Brother'" (Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita), according to the newspaper El Universo.

El Universo's defense lawyers said that they would not give comments or opinions on the pardon until the reprieve is officially brought to trial and approved by the judges, reported the AP. Two of the owners of El Universo, Ecuador's highest circulating newspaper, César and Nicolás Pérez, are currently in the United States asking international organizations for help, while the third, Carlos Pérez, has refugee status at the Embassy of Panama in the Ecuadoran capital of Quito. The accused former columnist, Emilio Palacio, is still waiting for a response from his request for political asylum in the United States.