Judicial harassment against Ecuadorian journalist undermines press freedom

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The entity requested protection measures for the reporter of Teleamazonas channel "in the face of the threats received" and that the facts "be investigated and concrete measures taken against the aggressors."
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Miami (February 2, 2021).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) considered that the judicial harassment against the investigative journalist Dayanna Monroy in Ecuador is "an act of intimidation that undermines press freedom." The entity requested protection measures for the reporter of Teleamazonas channel "in the face of the threats received" and that the facts "be investigated and concrete measures taken against the aggressors."

Prosecutor Javier Pucha Paguay requested information about Monroy's assets from various state institutions and urged Teleamazonas to deliver videos and journalistic notes in which Jacobo Bucaram Pulley, son of former President Abdalá Bucaram, is mentioned. The prosecutor took these measures after the lawsuit that former President filed against Monroy for revealing information extracted from a database. Since 2008, Monroy and Teleamazonas have been publishing investigations into acts of corruption within the public health system in which members of the Bucaram family could be involved.

After a report that the journalist made on her social media about the actions taken against her by the prosecutor, the General Prosecutor's Office ordered a review of those actions and requested an evaluation of the risk that the reporter could run and guarantees for her safety. Since last year, Monroy has been the victim of cyberbullying and direct threats from the former Ecuadorian president and his son.

Jorge Canahuati, president of the IAPA and president of Grupo Opsa, San Pedro Sula, Honduras, expressed his concern "about the way in which Justice is manipulated to act against journalists and the media that investigate acts of corruption." He also indicated that he hopes that the measure of the Attorney General's Office can shield journalist Monroy by granting her extra protection measures, due to the strong threats that she received and requested that concrete measures be investigated and taken against the aggressors.

Carlos Jornet, president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and director of the newspaper La Voz del Interior, Córdoba, Argentina, said that "it is unprecedented that the prosecutor is more concerned about obtaining videos and notes relevant to journalistic investigations from the channel when, in cases in which the public treasury is affected, the most relevant thing is that the allegations of corruption be investigated."

Former President Bucaram is in preventive house arrest. His son is in preventive detention and other family members are being investigated for the illegal sale of medical supplies in public hospitals during the Covid-19 emergency.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.

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