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Two journalists receive death threats

(IPYS/IFEX) - Eduardo Vite Benítez, a reporter and news programme director for the Telecosta television station, has reported that since December 2009 he has been receiving death threats that are linked to an investigation he is carrying out about irregularities in an agreement signed between the Municipality of Esmeraldas and a construction company.

On 25 June, Vite Benítez was the target of an attempt on his life when he was struck by a projectile in one of his arms. After the incident, the journalist was placed under the government's Victim and Witness Protection Programme, but then the police protection he had been granted was suddenly suspended without warning.

Both the death threats and the attack on Vite Benítez have been reported to the District Attorney's Office.

In a separate case, Leida Angulo Vallejo, a journalist for the Seducción radio station, in the city of Nueva Loja, in eastern Ecuador, reported that on 1 December police officer Carlos Cevallos threatened to kill her.

According to the journalist, the incident took place when she was riding her motorcycle and was intercepted and then threatened by Cevallos.

Angulo Vallejo said the police officer's actions were related to an investigation she had conducted which linked him to sales of overpriced gas cylinders.

As a result of the journalist's accusation, Cevallos received a verbal warning from his commander. The case was also reported to the police's internal affairs unit and the Ombudsman's Office.

And, finally, in a third case, in December Jorge Montaño Estupiñán, who worked as a municipal public relations officer and was a reporter for Radio Magia, went missing in the area of Quinindé, in Ecuador's coastal region. Montaño Estupiñán's family filed a missing person's report with the police. As a result, both the police and personnel from the municipality have been searching for him.

IPYS and FUNDAMEDIOS are following these investigations.

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