Despite Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa's pardon, a court decided to move forward with the ruling against two Ecuadoran journalists accused of defamation and reject the presidential pardon.
During an interview in Spain, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa questioned the funding of the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), reported the newspaper La Hora. "Do you know who funds Human Rights Watch, is it the Sisters of Charity, the Sinaloa Cartel?" Correa said to the Spanish journalist who was interviewing him.
On Sunday, March 11, the Ecuadorian Association of Newspaper Publishers (AEDEP in Spanish) asked President Rafael Correa to end his campaign against the press and to focus instead on real problems that Ecuador is facing, reported the newspaper El Diario.
In a statement, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticized the Ecuadorian government for "flagrantly" distorting information about what was discussed during a meeting between HRW and the National Communication Secretary of Ecuador, Fernando Alvarado, where freedom of expression in the country was debated.
After pardoning the journalists in a $40 million libel lawsuit against the newspaper El Universo, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa once again attacked the press, saying that in Latin America there exists a "media dictatorship" and that now is the time for "free citizens to rebel against this abuse," reported the news agency EFE.
After being offered asylum in Panama to avoid a $40 million libel lawsuit and three years in prison, one of the owners of the Ecuadoran newspaper El Universo, Carlos Pérez Barriga, arrived in Panama on Saturday, March 3, and met with the country's chancellor, Roberto Henríquez, reported the news agency Ansa Latina. Pérez had sought refuge in the Panamanian embassy in Quito, Ecuador, on Feb. 16.
After international outcry, on Monday, Feb. 27, Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa announced his decision to pardon journalists in the $40 million libel suit against the newspaper El Universo, its three owners and a former newspaper columnist, who were facing three years in prison. The president also dismissed the fine against the authors of a book detailing the president's alleged acts of nepotism, reported the Associated Press.
The Ecuadoran government announced that it would not comply with the request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) made to suspend the libel sentences against the owners of the newspaper El Universo, Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez, and former opinion page editor Emilio Palacio, calling the requested measures “inapplicable,” reported the NGO Fundamedios.
After the Colombian Association of Newspaper Editors and Media (Andiarios) decided to run the opinion column that prompted the libel lawsuit by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, newspapers all over Latin America decided to follow suit on Thursday, Feb. 23, reported the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo, the daily being sued by Correa.
A group of Ecuadorian government supporters, known as correistas.com, has launched a campaign against all news publications that have recently criticized Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa for his multiple attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression, explained the organization Fundamedios.