Editor of newspaper sued by Ecuador’s president resigns

Journalist Emilio Palacio, in an effort to protect his newspaper from an $80 million libel suit by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correan, has resigned from his position as opinion editor at El Universo, Terra reports.

According to the AFP, Palacio’s resignation letter, published by the press July 10, said “I am submitting my absolute resignation to the directors of El Universo newspaper, with whom I am proud to have worked.”

In the letter, he took complete responsibility for the editorial that drew Correa’s ire: “I hope that this resignation prompts the president to withdraw his suit against El Universo and Carlos, César, and Nicolás Perez,” the newspaper’s top executives, Infobae explains.

At the end of June, Presidential Press Secretary Fernando Alvarado said that the suit would be withdrawn if the journalist and El Universo’s directors retracted the editorial “NO to lies,” which in February accused the government of “having ordered [security forces] to fire at will” at a hospital during a police rebellion in September 2010. “For this lawsuit to be nullified, it is enough for the journalists and directors to recognize that they missed the truth in the article,” Alvarado said.

However, Correa’s lawyer, Alembert Vera, said the resignation of Palacio will not affect the suit. “We do not have an official copy of the alleged resignation, but what needs to be clear is that this will not affect the lawsuit,” he said, quoted by El Comercio.

On Feb. 28, Correa presented a $10 million complaint against journalists Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita, authors of the book "Big Brother," about their investigation into alleged government contracts worth millions of dollars awarded to businesses linked to Fabricio Correa, the president's older brother. Freedom of expression groups have called on Correa to withdraw the lawsuits without success.

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.