Ecuadorian journalist who photographed robbery shot to death

By Liliana Honorato

On Sunday, July 1, an Ecuadorian journalist was shot nine times and killed by two men on a motorcycle close to his house in the town of El Triunfo, about 38 miles from the coastal city of Guayaquil, reported the Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios.

The 31-year-old freelance photojournalist, Byron Baldeón, had recently been called to testify in court about a photograph that the journalist took during a robbery of TV sets from a container, according to the the Inter American Press Association. The investigation of the robbery led to the arrest of three police officers and two civilians, added the newspaper El Comercio.

A publisher from the newspaper Extra de Guayaquil, where the photos were published, said that it cannot be confirmed that this was the reason for the killing of Baldeón, reported the news agency EFE. However, Reporters Without Borders said that “the possibility that his murder was a direct result of this case cannot be ruled out.”

"Byron Baldeón's report about alleged police corruption reflects the vital importance of local journalism and the potential risks that this job brings," said Carlos Lauría, senior coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists program (CPJ).

Although CPJ has documented the killing of only one Ecuadorian journalist in 1992, the attacks against journalists and news press in Ecuador have increased by 150 percent in the last four years, according to a special report by Fundamedios in April of this year. The report showed that public officials were the main culprits.

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.