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.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has called on the Ecuadorian government to suspend the controversial defamation sentence against the newspaper El Universo, its owners, and the former opinion page editor Emilio Palacio, who are facing three years in prison and $40 million in fines, according to BBC Mundo.
"This demonstrates that you can prosecute not only the clowns, but also the owner of the circus," said Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa as he celebrated the high court's ruling upholding the defamation sentence against the owners of the newspaper El Universo, the same newspaper reported Thursday, Feb. 16.
Because of the recent attacks on press freedom and freedom of expression in Ecuador, the country's president, Rafael Correa, has been criticized in recent days by various journalistic organizations, according to the newspaper La Hora.
Two Ecuadoran journalists have been ordered to pay President Rafael Correa $2 million in moral damages for writing the book "El Gran Hermano" (Big Brother), according to the Associated Press. Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita wrote the book about the supposed contracts that Fabricio Correa, brother to the president, has with the state.