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Ecuadorian government targets TV station, journalist dismissed

On 16 March 2013 President Rafael Correa, during his No 313 Saturday program Enlace Ciudadano, urged Defense Minister María Fernanda Espinosa to decide on the judicial actions that could be applied against Ecuavisa TV station "in the face of such lack of professionalism and such bad faith" after the station broadcast a report on 11 March about alleged favoritism in the promotion of three colonels in the Ecuadorian Armed Forces.

"Look how they lie due to incompetence, bad faith or both. They do all this to see if we have a coup d'état, if someone kills the president; and then they will tear their clothing and talk about rights, peace and harmony", said the president. "A TV network cannot broadcast a report in such bad faith, attempting to destabilize the situation based on a forged document. Please review the legal actions that can be applied in the face of such a lack of professionalism and such bad faith", he continued.

Meanwhile the minister said "The aim is not just to misinform, there is bad faith. A document has been forged to create discomfort and anxiety. This is unacceptable. Fortunately the members of the armed forces know and can tell when certain media, bad media, misinform and lie to the public".

On Monday 18 March Ecuavisa issued a public apology in which it asserted that "at no time had it tried to create unrest within the armed forces and even less so produce a disturbance that would affect the institutionalism of the State or the population. "Ecuavisa confirms and admits the lack of compliance with basic verification procedures. Ecuavisa regrets the unrest created among the officers in question and their families, as well as any discomfort caused within civilian and military institutions", reads the statement broadcast by the station during its noon news program.

In addition, the media outlet declared that after the report criticized by the president had been broadcasted, they had released a statement issued by the Army that said the document used by the station was forged.

Following these events, on the evening of 19 March Ecuavisa informed journalist Freddy Barros of his dismissal. Barros had held the position of head of regional news in Quito and had worked for the station for 15 years, with a history that several of his colleagues described as "flawless".

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