ECUADOR A new legal framework and a series of assaults on journalists have seriously threatened press freedom in Ecuador. The new constitution, which went into effect on August 10, 1998, guarantees freedom of the press, but only under certain circumstances. So far there has been no enabling legislation in this regard, but the danger exists. Press organizations have expressed concern and are taking action in a bid to have the provisions repealed. Populist Party candidate Alvaro Noboa, a supporter of ousted President Abdala Bucaram, railed against new media critical of him. Individual journalists have also been physically assaulted or been subjected to pressure tactics. Article 81 of the new constitution states that "the state shall guarantee the right of access to sources of information, to seek, receive, be granted and disseminate objective, truthful, plural, timely and uncensored information about matters of general interest that uphold society's values, especially on the part of journalists and social communicators." The constitutional guarantees therefore do not apply to news that is not objective, truthful or timely - subjective criteria that could be defined in various ways, thus be open to arbitrary interpretation. The press has also been assigned under the constitution vague educational, cultural and civic obligations, to be regulated under the law along with the "protection of society's values." The right of reply is stiffened under the new constitution, which declares that "anyone who is the object of unproven or inaccurate statements or whose good name is sullied in news reports or unpaid announcements in the press or other news media shall have the right to an obligatory corresponding correction, to be made immediately, without charge and with the same prominence as the original item." These were the maln incidents: March 13: The plants of the dailies Expresa and Extra in Guayaquil were raided by unidentified persons. There have been no arrests. March 20: Photographers Edison Riofrio of Diaria HOY and Diogenes Baldeon of EI Universa were beaten up by soldiers while attempting to cover a demonstration by local police outside the Armed Forces Military Academy. April 7: Investigative reporter Felix Narvaez of TV Ecuavisa filed a formal complaint that he had been roughed up on two occasions while looking into allegations of corruption in the administration of interim President Fabian Alarcon Rivera. May 28: During run-off elections, presidential candidate Alvaro Noboa accused Diaria HOY of showing contempt for people living in the lowlands and charged the paper was financed with drug money. He later recanted. In separate incidents, supporters of his hurled verbal abuse at reporters from Diaria HOY, TV Ecuavisa and other media. June 2: Reporters Jose J ara and Esteban Felix of the Lima, Peru, daily Diario EI Sol, were held briefly at the Mariscal Sucre Air Force Base in Quito while attempting to cover the arrival there of President Fabian Alarcon.