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Former intelligence director reported for comments on drug trafficking in Ecuador

On 22 May 2013 the Minister of the Interior, José Serrano, filed a formal complaint with the Prosecutor of Pichincha against the former chief of military intelligence, Colonel (SP) Mario Pazmiño, for attempting "to disrupt the public order of the State" after he made some comments during an interview with Radio Visión about an alleged link between security forces and drug trafficking.

The formal complaint, signed by the minister, states that Pazmiño provided "publicly sensitive information in a deliberate and irresponsible manner, confirming facts that must be investigated before being stated as truth, this shows an evident attempt to disrupt the public order of the State, which reveals his desire to attract attention by causing social alarm...".

Serrano believes Pazmiño possibly committed a criminal offense, categorized and punishable under Article 148 of the Penal Code which states the following: "Whoever disseminates by any means or sends abroad propaganda, news or false information that aims to disrupt public order or affect national honor, shall be punished with imprisonment of six months to two years ...".

On 10 May during the Radio Visión program "Buenos Días", Pazmiño said that Ecuador "has ceased to be a transit country" for drug traffickers and become "a processing country", after which he asserted that "corruption has reached immense levels and proportions, to the extent that some military authorities (...) are involved".

According to the newspaper El Universo, Minister Serrano stated that Pazmiño's claims will have to be proved because not only would his declarations involve an alleged crime of slanderous offenses, but his comments could also have resulted in an attempt against the security of the State. "This was an attack on the honor of the officers, the command, the Police and the institutional framework itself... the Government and all the State institutions' political levels", said the official. For this reason, on behalf of the Government, Serrano asserted that he supported the career and work of the generals who make up the police leadership, since he is convinced that Pazmiño's accusation attempted to damage the honor and prestige of the senior officers.

We should recall that this would be the second lawsuit filed against Pazmiño by Serrano. The first began on 6 May 2012, when the former director of military intelligence disseminated information about the landing of an unidentified aircraft which, according to the minister, put at risk the authorities' investigations into a drug trafficking case.

Fundamedios rejects the use of criminal law to punish citizens' opinions and expressions. We recall that, according to international standards on freedom of expression, personal views on matters of public interest cannot and should not be subject to criminal sanctions.

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