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Police detain photojournalist, force him to delete photographs; journalist threatened

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 23 September 2009, Raúl Lluno, a photojournalist for the "La Hora" newspaper, was detained by police and forced to erase photographs he had taken while he was covering a demonstration by students in Quito.

Lluno was detained after he began taking photographs of a group of policemen employing violent measures to drive back students who were participating in the demonstration. When the officers realised what the photojournalist was doing, they trapped him against a wall, then put him in a van with other detainees.

The police officers subsequently forced Lluno to erase the photographs he had taken.

FUNDAMEDIOS and IPYS condemn this incident and call on the authorities to investigate it. The organisations also demand that clear instructions be given to police officers responsible for controlling social conflicts, urging them to respect the work of the press.

In a separate case, on 28 September, Yamil Murillo Zaldúa, a journalist with the daily "Correo", in the city of Machala, southern Ecuador, reported that he had received threatening text and voice messages. He received the messages after the publication, in August, of a series of reports about allegations of corruption in the management of state-owned resources by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The reports were signed "UIC" (the "Correo" Investigations Unit).

The NGOs listed in the reports, Sonrisas, Afrescus and A & P, were accused of having misused funds provided by the state to support development projects for children.

The journalist admits that he has no concrete evidence indicating who was behind the threats, but has said he is convinced they were issued by the NGOs' directors.

The NGOs have questioned the information that was published stating that an insufficient number of sources were consulted, that some of the information was falsified and that the NGOS were not granted a space to present their own viewpoint. They have also accused Murillo Zaldúa of a conflict of interest, saying that he has links to the organisation that supervises the projects.

The Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation into the actions of the NGOs in question and the threats against the journalist have not been repeated.

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