Journalist Fernando Villavicencio has been fined USD $140,000 after a judge in a defamation lawsuit sided with Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa.
Villavicencio and former legislator Clever Jimenez were sentenced to one year in prison in 2014, as well as Carlos Figueroa. They were accused of making accusations against Correa and his administration without evidence in relation to the President being hospitalized in Quito amid police revolts.
Those convicted went personally to the prosecutor’s office, where they were charged with “having moved to the facilities of a university, where they planned their rescue to then return to the hospital and thus free him.”
Jiménez had been prosecuted for hacking in 2013; back then I posted,
Now Jiménez is under investigation for espionage, and yesterday his home was raided in his absence by a SWAT team, 3 criminologists, a prosecutor from Pichincha and a number of his aides. Jiménez’s attorney stated the raid was carried out without a warrant. Additionally, Jiménez’s office at the National Assembly was raided and his computer and documents were removed.
Jim´nez was sentenced to 18 months in prison. The National Assembly removed him from his elected seat in April this year. Jiménez brought a complaint against Correa for human rights violations at The Hague in June.
The case against Villavicencio and Jiménez dates back to 2014. Freedom House reports,
Correa has filed several criminal and civil defamation cases against critical journalists in recent years. In 2013, a judge imposed 18-month prison sentences on opposition assembly member Cléver Jiménez and journalist Fernando Villavicencio, and a reduced sentence of six months on activist Carlos Figueroa, for allegedly defaming the president. The court also ordered a published apology to Correa and $140,000 in compensation. In December of that year, police seized computers from the homes of both Jiménez and Villavicencio; Correa publicly admitted that he had ordered the searches. The prison sentences were upheld on appeal in March 2014, and arrest warrants were issued for the defendants. Figueroa was arrested in July and began serving his sentence, while Jiménez and Villavicencio went into hiding.
They sought shelter in Amazonia; The Independent wrote about them on World Press Freedom Day: The journalist forced into hiding for resisting Ecuador’s authoritarian government. Media censorship is on the rise in the country that harbours Julian Assange. Read about their ordeal here.