73rd General Assembly
Salt Lake City, Utah

Conditions for journalism have improved significantly since President Lenín Moreno assumed office. In the second round of the election, former President Rafael Correa had heated disagreements with television networks over the dissemination of election results.

President Moreno, in what would have been an unusual move for the previous administration, approached the media and asked them to denounce corruption. Soon after that came the Odebrecht case involving Vice President Jorge Glas, who claimed that he was a victim of "media lynching" and media censorship.

To announce the results of the second round of voting, Ecuavisa, Teleamazonas, and Channel One reported the statistics of a company called Cedatos. Former President Correa, in his citizen chat #518, called Alfonso Espinosa de los Monteros "shameless" for declaring Lasso to be president.

SUPERCOM issued a written reprimand to the media, cautioning them to "refrain from committing [this type of infraction] again."

Due to the involvement of Jorge Glas, his uncle Ricardo Rivero, and other officials in the Odebrecht case, former President Correa, in Citizen Chat #521, questioned why the media had not reported news such as Glas's request to the comptroller's office for a special review of his assets, and why bad intentions were being attributed to the

request that the prosecutor's office to look into current and former ministers in cases of corruption.

Martín Pallares, a journalist for the website 4Pelagatos, was found not guilty on July 3 in a case brought by Correa over a story titled, "If Correa is caught stealing he could say he was taking care of it." According to the story, the former president claimed that Odebrecht's payment of one million dollars to former electricity minister Alecksey Mosquera was an agreement "between private parties."

Journalist Freddy Aponte, who has been subjected to a persecution campaign by Loja mayor José Bolívar Castillo, was notified of a new ruling against him. On July 3, the Civil Judicial Unit in Loja declared him insolvent and, as a result, he was disqualified from administering his assets and barred from leaving the country.

This is the sixth case brought by the mayor of Loja against the journalist, who has already been tried and convicted of the offense of fraudulent insolvency. The criminal division of the National Justice Court found Aponte innocent on April 29, 2015. This entire case came about after the nonpayment of some US$55,000 as indemnification for Castillo, who had previously sued the journalist for nonpecuniary harm and for defamation. On September 25, the civil and mercantile division of the Provincial Court of Loja confirmed the journalist's state of insolvency.

Anderson Boscán, a journalist for Expreso newspaper, was threatened on Twitter after running an article titled "Odebrecht sprays oil corruption."

As part of an investigation, Vice President Jorge Glas was called to testify on multiple occasions in the Odebrecht case. Glas stated that he was the victim of a media lynching by outlets that he described as "mercantilist" because of stories published on the Odebrecht case. He also said, both during the investigation and in his defense, that he offered interviews in the media but was censored, as Radio Sucre cut him off while he was speaking and Teleamazonas and Ecuavisa canceled his interviews.

Persons identified as supporters of Vice President Jorge Glas assaulted journalists and camera operators during his appearance at the prosecutor's office. Those assaulted were Diego Pallero, Henry Lapo, Carlos Granja, Jaime Acosta, and José Vallejo.

"Under protest," the Ecuavisa television network requested a reply from the Office of the Vice President in response to a news story disseminated by the network on September 22 about the leaking of emails between Vice President Glas and his uncle, Ricardo Rivera, both of whom are under investigation in the Odebrecht case.

As soon as he took office as president on May 29, Lenín Moreno held a conversation with media outlets. He spoke about freedoms, assuring them that there can be no dialogue without freedom of expression. This was an emphatic start to a smooth and respectful relationship with journalists throughout Ecuador, one that has continued to this day. In July, Moreno met with executives from private media outlets, after a decade of no dialogue, and asked them to be the first ones to denounce corruption.

The president also decided to take a fresh approach toward the administration of public and seized media outlets, encouraging them to be critical and independent.

On Press Freedom Day, the National Journalists Union (UNP) sent an open letter to Lenín Moreno and the National Assembly, calling for an end to the designation of the "right to communication" as a public service, as well as for a thorough review of the procedural system whereby journalists and media outlets are tried and punished. The letter also called for the repeal and abolition of "controversial and ambiguous" legal concepts. It asked that Superintendency of Communication be eliminated and that legislation be separated by subject matter, and it suggested that a new Communication Act be drafted from a democratic perspective.