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CPJ to hold authorities accountable for threats

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, November 11, 2011 - The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by reported death threats against César Ricaurte, head of the Ecuadoran press freedom group Fundamedios, which follow a concerted campaign by local authorities to discredit the group and foster a climate of intimidation against independent media and local press freedom activists.

"President Correa and Ecuadoran authorities must end the systematic verbal assault and defamation of Fundamedios for their work on behalf of journalists who are facing numerous restrictions," said CPJ Senior Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. "We hold the Ecuadoran government accountable for the safety of Fundamedios staff and executive director César Ricaurte."

The most recent spate of verbal attacks and harassment against Fundamedios and press advocates by Correa and government officials were prompted by the group's presentation of press freedom violations in Ecuador before the Inter American Commission on Human Rights on October 25. Ricaurte has since reported being the object of death threats via email and social media.

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    As government officials were interrupting various news programmes attempting to discredit FUNDAMEDIOS, the IFEX member in Ecuador, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) was wrapping up a press freedom mission that concluded independent media workers in the country face a general "climate of hostility." Even more alarming are death threats sent to staff of the Andean Foundation for Media Observation & Study (FUNDAMEDIOS) at the same time.

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