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Government attempts to discredit journalist and his investigation

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 21 and 24 January 2012, the government broadcast two videos aimed at discrediting journalist Fausto Yépez of the Teleamazonas TV station and his recent investigation into spying operations carried out by the Ministry of Justice and the security detail of state ministers.

The first video targeting Yépez was broadcast during the president's "255th Enlace Ciudadano program" and the second as a telecast ("cadena") on Tuesday 24 January, interrupting the interview program "Los Desayunos 24 Horas" and the Teleamazonas news program "Comunidad" for eight minutes.

Both videos maintain that Yépez and Teleamazonas have lied and that the "alleged investigation" "is based on the existence of a supposed spy network that would allegedly be based in institutions like the Ministry of Labor Relations", and that "they have created a scam to sustain the fiction they have come up with".

The videos also refer to Teleamazonas as a "station where unethical journalists utter falsehoods", and describe Yépez as "an alleged star journalist who just copies what others do". This was a reference to the fact that in a second report, the journalist commented on another issue related to the security detail of state ministers, referring to the Ministry of Labor Relations and its security systems as an example. This information had already been reported by "Vanguardia" magazine.

Yépez questioned the fact that the government's videos manipulated the presenters' information and opinions in order to give the public the impression that the reports stated that the Ministry of Labor Relations is using its security cameras for the purpose of spying.

The Teleamazonas journalist told Fundamedios that they did look into the alleged spying operations carried out by the Ministry of Justice, basing their investigations on documents and testimonies. In a second program, they tried to supplement the information by looking into the security systems of institutions such as the Ministry of Labor Relations. However, Minister Richard Espinosa voiced concerns about the reports and demanded that a correction be issued, inviting the station to visit the ministry's facilities as a result.

Yépez stated that after the visit, during which he was followed by two government cameras, the station broadcast an explanation stating that the Ministry of Labor Relations security system and the alleged spying involving the Ministry of Justice were two different things. It also stated that the video presented by the government was an amalgamation of images and comments taken from reports broadcast on different days (9 and 10 January), but edited in such a way as to appear linked, with the purpose of discrediting the investigation.

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