Ecuador's Correa fires back against U.S. criticisms of freedom of expression

After the United States criticized the state of freedom of expression in Ecuador, President Rafael Correa fired back, saying it was an “embarrassment” that U.S. President Barack Obama would “defend informants,” according to the news agency AFP.

President Correa was referring to the accusations made by journalist and director of the Ecuadorian NGO FundamediosCésar Ricaurte, who said he feared for his life after receiving death threats for criticizing the Ecuadorian government, said the newspaper El Diario. Correa has accused Ricaurte and other journalists of Fundamedios of being informants for the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador because their names appeared in WikiLeaks cables, reported the newspaper El Universal.

According to the newspaper El Comercio, the National Union of Ecuadorian Journalists considered the U.S. government's critiques as one more sign of Ecuador's bad image in terms of freedom of expression.

In 2011, 156 attacks on journalists were reported in Ecuador. Of those, the majority were at the hands of government officials – 56 percent came from state officials and 20.75 percent from the president, said the news agency Ecuavisa. In Ecuador “there is a total atmosphere of impunity,” said Ricaurte, according to Ecuavisa. “There is no public condemnation for attacks on the press,” he added.