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Ecuadoran president intensifies criticism of the press amid increasing reports of censorship

The open tension between Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa and the press intensified in recent days amid accusations of corruption and conspiracy among the media and allegations of government censorship and freedom of expression violations, reported the local press.

On Saturday, March 5, on his weekly radio program, the president said the press was manipulative, mediocre, corrupt, conspirators, "ink assassins," and coup plotters, reported Fundamedios. The presidential outburst came after the National Electoral Council (CNE) prohibited him from campaigning on his radio show. Correa said the CNE was succumbing to pressure from the press.

Ecuadorinmediato said that in just one week, the president announced three possible lawsuits against individuals -- including journalist Emilio Palacio — who had demonstrated opinions opposing the government.

Palacio wrote an editorial in the newspaper El Universo the president considered libelous.

Palacio, who in 2009 was sued for libel by a state official, filed a complaint before the International Human Rights Court (CIDH) calling for the country's "contempt and insult" law to be repealed.

In his four years as president, Correa has antagonized the press and implemented reforms limiting investment in the media. Renowned journalist Diego Oquendo, of Radio Visión, said that in his 40 years in the business he never has seen this type of pressure against press freedom, and he warned that once society realizes what's going on, it might be "too late."

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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