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Police in Ecuador arrest union leader convicted for libel against the president

On July 22, 2014, after an operation carried out by the National Police, medical union leader Dr. Carlos Figueroa was arrested, sentenced to six months in prison after being found guilty of libel against President Rafael Correa, along with former assemblyman Cléver Jimenez and his advisor Fernando Villavicencio. The Interior Ministry, via its official Twitter account @MinInteriorEc, tweeted: "Urgent. @PoliciaEcuador detained Carlos Figueroa, sentenced to 6 months in prison for libel. Arrest occurred north of #Quito".

Julio César Sarango, Figueroa's attorney, told Fundamedios that his client was taken to the Crime Unit, but he was not able to contact him. "They seized him, we don't know where he is, they are violating his rights blatantly, Article 77 paragraph 7, subparagraphs a and c of the Constitution. They have an obligation to immediately let him contact his lawyer and family and he hasn't been allowed that. They had said that they have already taken to jail number four, but that is not possible because legalization of the detention has to be before Judge Lucy Blacio," Mr. Sarango said.

On 21 March this year, Lucy Blacio, judge of the National Court of Justice, issued arrest warrants against Jimenez, Villavicencio and Figueroa, who were convicted of insulting the president. Judge Blacio, in the first instance sentenced Jimenez and Villavicencio, as perpetrators, to serve 18 months in prison and six months' imprisonment due to "mitigating factors" for Figueroa.

The arrest happened despite the fact that on 24 March 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), through Resolution 6/2014, granted precautionary measures in favor of the three and asked the State of Ecuador to suspend immediately the execution of the warrants. These measures have not been upheld by the Ecuadorian State.

This case dates back to 2011, when Jimenez, Villavicencio and Figueroa asked for an investigation of President Correa for his involvement in the 30 September 2010 events. This complaint was discarded and qualified as malicious and reckless by the State General Prosecutor.

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