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Ecuadorian investigative journalist takes leave after her safety is threatened

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - 19 September 2012 - On 19 September 2012, journalist Jeanette Hinostroza confirmed publicly that she has received threats against her security and physical safety and announced that she would take a temporary leave from the Teleamazonas news and interview program "La Mañana de 24 Horas", as a preventive measure.

Hinostroza did not appear in her program last Friday (14 September), which gave rise to several rumors, because on that day the third chapter of an investigation titled "Los vínculos del poder" (The links of power), was going to be broadcast. The series is about the irregularities of a loan granted to an Argentinian citizen and his relationship with Pedro Delgado, president of the Central Bank and the president's cousin.

Hinostroza justified her absence on Friday and said that "while I was preparing for the third chapter of this investigation, I received a call threatening my physical integrity and personal security. As I do not know what kind of people we are dealing with, Teleamazonas' directors and I made the joint decision to take preventive actions, which meant not appearing in the program on Friday".

Referring to the accusation, the journalist called on the authorities to investigate the case and asked "When did the world turn upside down so that now journalists who make accusations and present evidence are prosecuted or threatened? This is not an accusation against the government or somebody in particular, as it has been unfairly interpreted, it is an accusation against the corruption that damages the country so much; when everybody should be pointing towards the same side, the government's fingers inexplicably turn round and point towards the journalists. We are doing our jobs".

Hinostroza confirmed that she has been doing journalistic investigations for several years and has denounced corruption cases that were similar or even more delicate than the one she is presenting, but nobody had ever threatened her before, not even when she worked in Colombia as the ruthless war between the Colombian Government and the Cali cartel was being waged. "If I were on my own, be assured that I would have continued to the bitter end, maybe this country needs a dead or unfairly imprisoned journalist to react against what is happening, but that is not my reality, I am not on my own", she declared.

Finally the journalist said that after giving it much thought, she had decided that it was best to leave the news program for some time, although she will continue directing the program 30 Plus and be in charge of some special reports. She also reiterated that she has the TV station's wholehearted support and thanked Minister of the Interior José Serrano for his offer to provide security, which she did not accept, she said, because it did not seem fair to her that a journalist should be surrounded by bodyguards to do their job.

Jeanette Hinostroza is the third journalist who has been forced to leave morning news programs in Ecuador. Jorge Ortiz, of the same TV station, left before her and so did Carlos Vera, of Ecuavisa. The morning time slot has traditionally been the space reserved for interviews, debate and political opinions.

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