Ecuadorian journalist considers taking President Correa to court for recent attacks

By Liliana Honorato

The publisher of the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo said that he is considering filing a lawsuit against Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for the president's recent attacks against the journalist, which "put his and his family's integrity at risk," reported the news agencies AFP and EFE.

Journalist Gustavo Cortez reported his complaints on Monday, July 9, during a meeting with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and said that he plans to present his case to the international press, pointing out the serious deterioration of freedom of expression in Ecuador since president Correa's administration began in 2007, added AFP.

On June 16, during his official TV program Enlace Ciudadano, President Correa showed a picture of Cortez and called him “sinister,” saying that "he manipulates everything.” Correa also threatened to publicly show pictures of journalists who the president said would "do anything for a stale crust of bread," reported the Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios.

A week later, Correa again showed a picture of Cortez during his program and called for Ecuadorian citizens to remember his face “as a clear example of bad press in the country," reported CPJ.

According to the Mexican newspaper El Universal, Cortez and his lawyers are evaluating if it would be worth taking president Correa to court. In February 2012, President Correa celebrated a judicial victory against El Universo, in which former columnist Emilio Palacio and the owners of the newspaper were sentenced to three years of prison and fined more than $30 million.

At the end of February, Correa pardoned the sentence against El Universo and the case against the journalists and authors of the book “El Gran Hermano” (Big Brother), a book about the president's alleged acts of nepotism. However, in April, the Ecuadorian court rejected the president's pardoning of the lawsuit against authors of the book, although a few days later the court agreed to dismiss the case.

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.