Ecuadoran journalist receives explosive device days before presidential election

Just days before Ecuador elects a new president, journalist Janet Hinostroza received an explosive device at her workplace.

Hinostroza, the host of ‘Los Desayunos de 24 Horas’ (24-Hour Breakfasts) and Noticiero 24 Horas (24-Hour Newscast), received an envelope at Teleamazonas headquarters on the morning of Feb. 16.

According to Teleamazonas, an envelope addressed to Hinostroza contained a DVD box with the following written on the front: “Who is behind the corruption? Irrefutable evidence.” Upon slightly opening the box, cables could be seen, the broadcaster added. Police were called and the media outlet was evacuated while authorities inspected the package.

Teleamazonas said that a detonating capsule, cables, battery and other components were found inside.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that Hinostroza told them, “I’m very concerned about what is happening in our country. These are the consequences of the level of violence and confrontation that we’ve gone through in these years. It is a clear threat that I forcefully reject.”

It is the second threat Hinostroza has received as a journalist, she told El Comercio.

A similar envelope was sent to Gabriela Rivadeneira, president of the National Assembly, on Feb. 15. Three more envelopes with explosive devices were found in the postal system, according to El Mundo. One was addressed to Ecuavisa journalist Estefanía Espín.

This Sunday, Feb. 19, Ecuadorans will vote in presidential and legislative elections that will bring an end to current President Rafael Correa’s decade in office.

El Mundo reported that Correa rejected the sending of the bombs and said that the senders “are people who try to alter Sunday’s elections, alter the results.”

CPJ urged authorities for a thorough investigation and prosecution of whoever is responsible for the threat against Hinostroza.

“In the days leading up to the presidential elections it is critical that journalists are able to report on the problems facing Ecuador without fear,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, according to a press release.

In 2013, Hinostroza received CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award for “courageous investigative reporting into politics and corruption.”

On Aug. 8, 2016, she and Teleamazonas were sanctioned by the Superintendency of Information and Communication (Supercom) for repeatedly questioning the purchase of medication by the Ecuadorian government. Days before, Correa had accused them of “media lynching.”

National and international press and freedom of expression organizations spoke against the sanctions.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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