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Journalists assaulted during protests over government policies in Ecuador

This statement was originally published on fundamedios.org on 20 March 2015.

On 19 March 2015, during a national day of mobilizations convened by various social sectors to protest against government policies, a number of incidents against the press occurred such as physical attacks against Teleamazonas and Gama TV news teams in Quito and a cameraman working for the digital outlet LaRepública.ec in Guayaquil. This web portal was also taken off the air following a reported denial of service.

Journalist Kléber Aranda, of the state-operated TV station Gama TV, was beaten by masked men who attacked him while he was covering the marches in downtown Quito. According to the state-run newspaper El Telégrafo, Aranda suffered injuries to his fingers. The same masked individuals also attacked the private TV station Teleamazonas' news team. The incident was reported during the station's news program stating that union leaders had determined that the attacker was an alleged infiltrator. Concerning this, journalist Andrea Samaniego reported the incident through her personal Twitter account, where she also said that the attackers attempted to take her colleague's camera.

Sectors linked to the marches' organizers denounced that the masked persons were "infiltrators".

In another incident, cameraman Jonathan Bedón, of the digital outlet LaRepublica.ec, was beaten while covering the marches in the center of the port city of Guayaquil. Speaking to Fundamedios, Carlos Jijón, director of the portal said the attack occurred in the middle of a riot, so he could not identify the perpetrator or whether the attack was intentional or was the result of the confrontation between the police and the demonstrators that was occurring at the time.

The news portal was off the air during three hours as the result of an attack known as denial of service, which prevented internet users from accessing the page. Jijón said, however, that the live broadcast through
streaming had not been interrupted because it operates through an independent portal.

According to Jijón, this is the third time that the portal has been attacked in the context of mobilizations and he stated that although it was not possible to prove that it was a targeted attack, the chance that this could happen is so small that it would not be far-fetched to believe that the intention was very clear.

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