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Government communications department photographer threatened

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 26 June 2012, Yadira Romo, a photographer who works for the provincial government of Carchi's communications office, in northern Ecuador, filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor's Office saying she received a death threat from an unidentified person after a verbal dispute between two journalists, one of whom works for a privately-owned media outlet while the other works for a government-owned publication.

According to the government-owned newspaper El Ciudadano, Romo received a phone call in which the caller issued a death threat against her family. "First they asked my name, then they insulted me and said I was the governor's informer against the people of Carchi," Romo told the newspaper.

According to El Ciudadano, the incident took place after an argument between one of their journalists and Yaco Martínez, president of the Carchi Journalists Association and a reporter for the newspaper La Nación. At the time of the argument, the media were attempting to get the provincial prefect's reactions to the sale of gas using a smart card.

Martínez told FUNDAMEDIOS that the altercation took place when he attempted to talk to the El Ciudadano reporter to ask him to "do a good job and not misrepresent the information," because, according to Martínez, the government-owned newspaper's reporter insisted in one of his questions that the local population approves of the measure, while he believes the opposite is true. At that point, Romo began to photograph the two journalists arguing.

"She (Romo) intervened and continued taking pictures. As she is a friend, I took her hand and asked her not to take photographs of me. It was then that the gentleman (from El Ciudadano) started to tell me not to get worked up, which I wasn't, I was only asking him to do a good job," Martínez said.

Meanwhile, the government newspaper stated in an article, entitled "Periodistas de El Ciudadano y Gobernación fueron agredidos" (Journalists from El Ciudadano and government assaulted), that journalists who work for the newspaper and the government of Cachi's Communications Office were attacked with "insults and slaps" while they were carrying out their work. Martínez denied this assertion and requested that El Ciudadano show unedited images, not in slow motion as they had been in an attachment to the article, to give the impression, according to him, "that there had been an assault."

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