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Ecuadorian journalist's private conversation illegally recorded and aired on YouTube

On October 30, 2013, Milagros Aguirre, a journalist and co-author of the book “A Hidden Tragedy” (“Una Tragedia Oculta”) reported that a private conversation between her and Alicia Cahuilla, a Waorani indigenous leader who has publicly rejected the Presidential decision to start oil exploitation procedures within Yasuní National Park, was illegally recorded and aired on Youtube.

The book “A Hidden Tragedy” refers to the killings of the Taromenane indigenous peoples in March 2013. Aguirre told Fundamedios that on October 3, 2013, she was approached by four Waorani leaders, and that she met with them in her office. A person who she assumed was part of the Waorani group attended the meeting, however he never identified himself.

“We met to discuss the content of the book. It was a private meeting, in which we also discussed some of the work that my foundation does, while discussing the possibility of translating some educational materials. We now suppose that the unidentified person recorded the meeting and made it public. This is a violation to our fundamental rights”.

The private conversation was uploaded to Youtube and other social networks by a user named Lawmaker Citizen. The video was published with the title “Alicia Cahuilla was manipulated. What the media is not saying”. This accusation was also made by President Correa in his Weekly National Broadcasts, and by other high-ranking public officials.

Aguirre presented a claim to the Office of the Prosecutor General, and demanded that the authorities investigate the owner of the Youtube account that uploaded the video. She alleged that the video reveals information that violates her right to privacy, like her e-mail address. The video then shows her picture and her personal information. The video has received many offensive and violent comments against Aguirre by several YouTube users.

On September 5, 2013, a judge issued an interim measure to stop the circulation of the book, as requested by the National Public Ombudsman. The measure was overturned days later, after some high-ranking public officials indicated that the judge's decision was a mistake and noted the book had been distributed through the Internet.

Fundamedios rejects these actions and demands that they are duly investigated and sanctioned. These actions jeopardize the right to privacy of Ms. Aguirre, and represent a retaliation due to her investigation on matters of public interest. The State is therefore responsible of investigating this incident.

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