Despite the fact that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has been heavy handed in his dealings with media Since taking office in January, of 2007, Ecuador has ostentatiously demonstrated support for the freedom of the press by using their London embassy to protect Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks.
Despite his fugitive status in the UK, Julian has found a safe haven in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 19th in order to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is wanted for questioning.
Ecuador’s support for the founder of the whistle blowing organization may seem particularly ironic to those familiar with the deterioration of speech rights in the country since Correa took office.
As early as May of his first year as President in 2007, Rafael Correa, audaciously and ironically had his security remove the editor of El Universo newspaper during an interview. The topic of the interview was freedom of speech.
Since then, he has lead an assault on the press, including attacks on newspapers, and books deemed unfriendly to his progressive policies. In addition to lawsuits, those accused have faced prison terms for their dissenting opinions.
Ecuador is not unfamiliar with Wikileaks. On the 4th of April, 2011 United States ambassador Heather Hodges was removed from the country, after a State Department cable was leaked by Wikileaks indicating that the state department suggested that a general appointed by President Correa “used his positions to extort bribes, facilitate human trafficking, misappropriate public funds, obstruct investigations and prosecutions of corrupt colleagues, and engage in other corrupt acts for personal enrichment.”