Media workers in Ecuador sued for libel, allege politically motivated firings

In two separate incidents, journalists in Ecuador say they are being targeted for their critical reporting on the powerful. In the first case, Fundamedios reports via IFEX that a prosecutor in the coastal city of Manta is suing five directors and journalists who work for the Ediasa media group for libel over an article reporting allegations that he accepted a bribe.

The prosecutor wants jail time for the journalists and $1.5 million in damages from Ediasa, a company that owns Amiga radio and the Manavisión TV network and also publishes El Diario and La Marea newspapers.

In another incident, workers at the Sucumbíos community radio station – located in the Amazon-region city of Nueva Loja – are occupying the station to protest mass firings by the Catholic Church organization that manages the station, the World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC) reports via IFEX.

According to Fundamedios, one of its correspondents who works at the radio station, Víctor Gómez, said that employees believe the firings are motivated by the station’s support of groups that oppose the new church administration. The station’s director says the firings are a strategy to silence a broadcaster that is vocal on regional political issues, including open opposition to oil exploration, AMARC adds.

These reports come at a time when Ecuador has finalized the vote count of a contentious May 7 referendum on issues that include judicial and media reform. According to the National Electoral Council (CNE), the provision to bar bank investment in media companies passed with a vote of 47.2% to 41.9%. Another question that mandates the creation of a council to regulate content broadcast or published by media outlets passed with a margin of 44.9% to 42%.

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.