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Arrest warrant issued for journalist, mayor threatens to initiate legal action against him

(FUNDAMEDIOS/IFEX) - On 20 August 2010, the Quinindé Fourth Criminal Court judge, Kléber Samaniego, issued an arrest warrant for Juan Alcívar Ríos, a correspondent for the daily "La Hora" and a journalist for the El Nuevo Sol radio station in the town of La Concordia, in Esmeraldas province, 318 kilometers northwest of Quito. The journalist was accused of perpetrating a terrorist attack against public officials by allegedly throwing a teargas bomb inside a fairground during a visit by President Rafael Correa on 19 July.

The judge ordered the arrest of Alcívar based on statements provided by two of the town's municipal employees. However, Alcívar told FUNDAMEDIOS that the arrest warrant is part of a campaign initiated against him by La Concordia's mayor, Walter Ocampo Heras, of the Alianza País coalition, who has attempted to intimidate him because the journalist has questioned the public official's administration on his radio program.

Alcívar pointed out that he has constantly received threatening telephone calls and insulting text messages, and that, as a result, he has presented a formal complaint before the Public Prosecutor's Office. He also reported that he is and will remain in hiding because he fears for his life. "In prison it's easy to have you killed," he said. Alcívar said that his relatives are afraid because they have also received threatening phone calls.

Francisco Vivanco, the president of "La Hora", explained that the accusation against Alcívar is the result of a campaign of "persecution by a mayor who has now found a convenient situation in which to act against a journalist who has always been critical of him”. Vivanco added that the newspaper has granted the journalist an indefinite leave of absence with pay so that he can defend himself.

During an interview carried out by the "El Universo" newspaper, Mayor Ocampo stated that "whatever the journalist says will have to be proven in the case I am going to initiate against him," adding that he plans to accuse the journalist of "defamation, slander and damage to his honour."

In July, FUNDAMEDIOS reported that Alcívar was threatened when unidentified individuals damaged his car and painted a note that said, "Shut up, don't screw with the mayor". At the time the journalist said that he had criticised the mayor's work on his program.

FUNDAMEDIOS notes that despite the constant threats, the authorities have not provided any kind of protection for the journalist and no state official has shown any concern about his situation. Now an arrest warrant has been issued against the journalist based on allegations made by two municipal employees who work for the very administration that Alcívar has called into question. For these reasons, FUNDAMEDIOS strongly condemns the attempt to arrest the journalist.

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  • Journalist threatened

    The journalist told IPYS and Fundamedios that he fears for his and his family's safety.

Case history

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