In light of the recent news that Julian Assange - proported agitator of free speech and press freedom - seeks asylum in Ecuador, it's worth reviewing the country's relationship with the news media. While there are numerous accounts of Ecuador's abysmal free press record, the following are some highlights of just how unfriendly Rafel Correa's government is to reporters.
Just this past month his agents shut down six media outlets, bringing the total to 16 for the year. (excerpt from Knight Center report): "Although authorities say the closures are due to not following the Law of Broadcasting and Television, as well as because of technical problems, many question whether the closures have something to do with the fact that the majority of these news media outlets were critical of the government..."
After sueing a number of editors and reporters for libel, President Correa 'pardoned' them, quoting ""There is forgiveness, but it is not forgotten."
While Ecuador faces international pressure to guarantee free speech, little comfort can be taken by Ecuadorian journalists that the threat they face is, for now, primarily judicious rather than physical harm. Ironic that a man who's intent was to leak the secrets of government in the name of free speech would appeal to such an authoritarian state in which to hide from authority.