President of Ecuador seeks $80 millon in damages from newspaper

The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, asked for $80 million in damages from the newspaper El Universo, in a complaint filed for alleged libel, El Universo reported.

Filed under his personal capacity and not as a ruler, the complaint also calls for three years in prison for the newspaper's editors and the editorial writer Emilio Palacio, author of the opinion piece that upset the president, the newspaper explained.

The complaint, the second one Correa has filed against journalists in less than a month, was prompted by the editorial "NO to Lies" that accused the president of giving orders to "fire at will" against a hospital during a police rebellion last September. The president said he consider this a "very serious accusation," reported Generaccion.com.

Times are increasingly difficult for journalists in Ecuador. For example, reporter Antonio Medrano, correspondent for the newspapers "El Universo" and "Súper" in the city of Babahoyo, west of Quito, received death threats over the phone after publishing a story about extortion and bribes in a local institution, reported IFEX.

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.

These complaints bring to 18 the lawsuits against journalists and media owners in Ecuador since Correa came to power in 2007, reported El Mundo.

Read here the complete complaint (in Spanish).

Other Related Headlines:
» Centro Knight (Presidente de Ecuador arrecia críticas contra la prensa en medio de crecientes denuncias de censura)

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.