Ecuadoran sports reporter beaten, threatened

New York, December 7, 2010–Ecuadoran authorities must fully investigate a vicious attack against sports reporter Guido Manolo Campaña, who was abducted, beaten, and threatened while on assignment in the northern coastal province of Esmeraldas, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Two gunmen seized Campaña, a reporter for the Guayaquil-based daily El Universo, from a bus that was en route to Esmeraldas, northwest of the capital, Quito, at about 1 p.m., the newspaper reported. Campaña was investigating allegations that a professional soccer player was using another person’s identity, according to El Universo.

The gunmen blindfolded and bound Campaña, and drove him to a house in an unknown location, where four captors beat, threatened, and interrogated him about his assignment, El Universo said. When Campaña was allowed to answer a call from the paper at around 2:30 p.m., he instructed an editor not to publish his reporting on the identity case, El Universo said.

At around 8 p.m., Campaña told the newspaper, he was taken to the south Esmeraldas neighborhood of Tiwinza. Before dropping off the journalist, the captors said they would kill him and hurt his family if his reporting on the case was made public, Campaña said. He said the assailants stole his camera, voice recorder, cell phone, and a notebook.

Campaña told CPJ that he filed a complaint with local authorities in Esmeraldas. Campaña was investigating accusations that Gonzalo Jaiver Chila Palma, a player for the professional soccer club Liga Universitaria Deportiva de Quito, was using another person’s name and national identification number, El Universo said. The person had filed a police complaint, the paper said.

In an initial interview with El Universo, Chila said he had nothing to hide. In an interview today, he acknowledged purchasing another identity but denied any wrongdoing.

“We condemn the attack against our colleague Guido Manolo Campaña,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “We urge the authorities to bring the perpetrators of this violent attack to justice and assure that reporters like Guido Campaña can do their jobs without fear of reprisal.”

Campaña’s newspaper is providing him with two private security guards at his home and one to accompany him if he leaves the house. According to Campaña, local police have also offered protection. El Universo published a story on the identity case this week.