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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

APRIL 6, 2004
Posted: April 14, 2004

Daniel Montalvo, TC Televisión
Eduardo De la Cruz, TC Televisión
Freddy Paredes, Teleamazonas
Robert Molina, Teleamazonas
Robert Tapia, Cablevisión
Carlos Torres, Cablevisión

Montalvo and De la Cruz, a reporter and cameraman, respectively, at TC Television; Paredes and Molina, a reporter and cameraman, respectively, at Teleamazonas; and Tapia and Torres, a cameraman and assistant, respectively, at Cablevisión, were taken hostage at a womenís prison in the capital, Quito, in the wake of protests by inmates in overcrowded prisons in five cities around the country to demand shorter sentences and better living conditions.

The journalists were trying to interview inmates at the prison when they were taken hostage.

The protests erupted on Sunday, April 4, two weeks after guards in Ecuadorís 34 prisons went on strike demanding improved working conditions and back pay. The Ecuadoran press reported than more than 100 visitors inside the womenís prison were also held captive, though it was unclear if some of them were there voluntarily or against their will.

After the news crews were taken hostage, am organizer of the protest said they would use the journalists as leverage so authorities would listen to their demands, the Associated Press reported. The inmates assigned the news crews three cells and allowed them to continue reporting without any threats.

On Thursday, April 8, Teleamazonas decided to stop broadcasting news from the prison until the stationís crew was released. Two days later, the inmates freed Paredes and Molinas. Torres was released on Monday, April 12, because of health problems, and the other were freed the next day, as tensions eased and inmates continued negotiations with authorities.