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In Ecuador, journalist's home raided on questionable pretense

On Tuesday 12 March 2013 seven people, among them police officers and municipal officials, entered the home of Juan Alcívar, a journalist and correspondent for the newspaper La Hora in the city of Concordia, located 318 km northwest of Quito, for allegedly occupying public property without municipal permission.

Alcívar told Fundamedios that at approximately 13:00 his wife called him scared because six men and one woman, who identified themselves as municipal officials, had entered their home without a warrant and were carrying weapons. "My wife told them I was not there, and they called her all sorts of names. By the time I arrived, I found the operation in full swing; motorcycles outside and those people inside", said Alcívar.

The journalist stated that one of the officers berated him and demanded his permit to occupy the street. "They called me all sorts of things. Everyone knows that this is persecution because there are many people who occupy public propety and are not harassed."

Alcívar admitted he had been occupying two meters of the sidewalk because of some repairs he was making in his house. However, he is sure that the operation was part of the persecution that he has been a victim of for some years and which he blames on Mayor Walter Ocampo, who in 2010 accused him of a "terrorist aggression against public officials".

This is not the first time Alcívar has been targeted. On 30 September 2010 he said he was physically assaulted by Miguel Ángel Moreta, trustee prosecutor of the Municipality of La Concordia, and his companion Consuelo Landeta. On November 26 of that same year he suffered a physical attack and received a death threat. On 28 November 2012 he reported having been physically and verbally attacked by the Municipal Commissioner and other officials.

Alcívar remains accused of "terrorist aggression against public officials", an accusation filed by Ocampo on the basis of declarations made by two municipal employees. For this reason, the Fourth Criminal Guarantees Judge of Quinindé, Kléber Samaniego, ordered the journalist to be put under preventive custody but this was replaced a month later by a precautionary measure ordering him to appear in court every 15 days. This measure has already expired, so the journalist is waiting for the date of the trial hearing before the Criminal Court of Esmeraldas.

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