International organizations decry Ecuadorian newspaper director's prison sentence for libel

An Ecuadorian judge's decision to sentence Hoy newspaper director Jaime Mantilla Anderson to three months in prison for libel drew condemnation from the Inter American Commission of Human Rights' Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, the Inter American Press Association and the Committee to Protect Journalists, reported the news agency EFE.

The Dec. 21, 2011, decision was levied in response to a lawsuit from President Rafael Correa's cousin, Pedro Delgado Campaña, chair of the Ecuadorian Central Bank, who charged that a series of unsigned articles published in the supplement Blanco y Negro (Black and White) in 2009 damaged his public image, name and honor, according to the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.

Once the decision was announced, the plaintiff said that he would stop pressing charges against the journalist in a Dec. 23, 2011 statement, which could void the decision against the newspaper's editor, according to La Hora and the AFP.

Besides the sentence of jail time, the judge also ordered Mantilla to reveal the identity of the articles' author, which the defendant said was unacceptable, reported the newspaper El Universo.

Fundamedios reports that there are at least 13 open cases or investigations against the media or journalists in Ecuador.