Bogotá, June 3, 2020 — Ecuadorian authorities should conduct a speedy and transparent investigation into the explosion at the Teleamazonas broadcaster, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 5:15 a.m. on May 31, a stick of dynamite exploded at the entrance of the independent TV station’s office in the coastal city of Guayaquil, shattering glass but causing no injuries, according to news reports.
In security footage aired by the broadcaster, a person is seen exiting a white car, tossing an object, and then driving away; soon thereafter, an explosion rocks the building.
Station executives believe the attack was in retaliation for a series of recent reports about state-run hospitals that allegedly purchased face masks, body bags, and other supplies related to Ecuador’s coronavirus outbreak at inflated prices, according to a reporter with the station, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.
Executives believe the attack was committed by someone connected to state officials or hospital contractors, the reporter said.
“The detonation of an explosive device at the Guayaquil offices of Teleamazonas is a clear message of intimidation,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “Ecuadorian authorities must take this threat seriously by conducting a swift investigation and holding the perpetrators to account so that journalists feel they can report safely.”
In a statement released after the attack, the station said, “Teleamazonas rejects any type of intimidation and will continue to investigate acts of corruption.”
In the Teleamazonas broadcast that aired the security footage, Guayaquil Police Chief Victor Aráus told reporters that the attack is under investigation. In that same report, Fabián Rodríguez, an anti-explosives officer, said that police had determined that the stick of dynamite had a foot-long fuse, which could burn for about two minutes, allowing time for the attackers to flee the scene.
“We reject this act of violence which comes from corrupt people who fear falling into the hands of justice,” tweeted Pedro Pablo Duart, the governor of Guayas state, which includes Guayaquil.
The Ecuador attorney general’s office tweeted that it is also investigating the attack.