Attacks on Ecuadorian press increased by 150 percent in past four years, report says

During the first trimester of this year, a total of 53 attacks on "news media, journalists, and citizens exercising their rights to freedom of expression” were recorded in Ecuador, according to a special report of the Monitoring Network of Threats to Press Freedom of the Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios.

According to the report, public officials were "the main aggressors during this first trimester" with a total of 57 percent of incidents coming from officials. Of those, roughly 21 percent originated from Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa, and 15 percent came from "unions, civil associations, violent groups, mobs, political supporters, and protests."

The report also shows that attacks against journalists and news media increased by 150 percent in the last four years, reported the newspaper La Hora. In the first trimester of 2009 there were 21 cases, in 2010 there were 34 cases, and in 2011 there were 42 cases.

These numbers are mainly the result of repeated attacks against the press from President Correa, said the report, this despite the president's pardoning of journalists Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita, authors of the book "Big Brother," and the commuting of the $40 million libel sentence against the newspaper El Universo. However, at the end of March a judge rejected the pardon for journalists Calderón and Zurita.