New York, June 26, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists strongly condemns personal attacks made by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on Gustavo Cortez, editor of the leading daily El Universo.
“President Correa must abstain from using abusive language and engaging in personal attacks on Gustavo Cortez and other independent journalists solely because they have different points of view,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “In the polarized context of Ecuador, such attacks can be extremely dangerous. We hold President Correa responsible for the safety of Cortez.”
During a TV broadcast on Saturday Correa accused Cortez of being “wicked” and “of having bad faith.” He showed a photo of Cortez and called on the Ecuadoran people to remember his face “as a clear example of the bad press in the country.” It was the second time Correa singled out the journalist in two weeks. In February, Correa won a libel suit against El Universo and later pardoned the paper. CPJ research shows that press freedom has seriously deteriorated in Ecuador since Correa took office in 2007.