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Newspaper faces lawsuit for publishing allegations against local prefect

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 28 February 2011 - José Cadena, owner of the weekly "El Vocero" in the Amazonian province of Sucumbíos, in northeastern Ecuador, is facing a lawsuit filed before the Prosecutor's Office by the local prefect, Orlando Grefa, who has accused the newspaper of damaging his image and his honour after it published allegations made against him by Vice-Prefect Oswaldo Calvopiña.

Cadena told Fundamedios that the lawsuit was filed on 27 September 2010 before Public Prosecutor José Beltrán after his newspaper published information about allegations against Grefa made by the vice-prefect, accusing him of bribery and embezzlement.

However, the lawsuit is not the only action taken by the prefect against Cadena, who maintains he has been constantly receiving threatening telephone calls demanding that he refrain from publishing allegations against the prefect. Cadena also said that he is being marginalized by the Sucumbíos Provincial Government as he is not being invited to press conferences and the newspaper is no longer able to obtain government advertising contracts.

Cadena noted that the lawsuit is currently at a standstill. He said, however, that he will continue to follow the same critical editorial line and will publish information about irregularities concerning the authorities.

On the other hand, Grefa told Fundamedios that he is not against any particular person or media outlet and that the only thing he has asked for from the newspaper, via the Public Prosecutor's Office, is documentation about the allegations against him and who requested the publication of the information. He noted, however, that "they didn't want to hand it over". "We only want to know if there is any information that the public has not commented on. But if the newspaper shows a lack of goodwill, we can't just grin and bear it," he stated.

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