Ecuador court upholds criminal libel verdicts

AP News
Posted: Sep 20, 2011 2:12 PM
Ecuador court upholds criminal libel verdicts

An Ecuadorean appeals court has upheld criminal libel convictions and three-year prison sentences for three newspaper directors and a former editorialist over a column that called leftist President Rafael Correa a dictator.

Voting 3-to-1, the judges also upheld $42 million in fines levied in July against the executives of El Universo, the newspaper that published the column by Emilio Palacio that was deemed libelous.

Correa attended Tuesday's court hearing. He said Ecuador has begun to free itself of a corrupt press.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists expressed dismay, calling the decision "a blow to freedom of expression."

The defendants are free pending appeal to a higher court.