Edward Snowden today supplicated himself to leftist President Rafeal Correa in a disgusting attempt to gain asylum in Ecuador. Snowden, from his airport holdout in Moscow, wrote a letter to Pres. Correa which began by “express[ing]” his “deep respect for your principles” and ended by noting his “great personal admiration of your commitment to doing what is right rather than what is rewarding.” One wonders whether Snowden is aware of the human rights record of Correa, including, and especially, his actions trampling on the very freedoms of speech and journalism that Snowden has cited as motivating his actions.
As one example, late last year Correa’s Labour Ministry raided the offices of a weekly publication called Vanguardia, confiscating its computers and other equipment and effectively preventing publication for a time. Reporters Without Borders noted:
The 31 July raid was not the first of its kind at Vanguardia, which often covers alleged corruption involving government officials. There have also been repeated closures of radio and TV stations that criticize President Rafael Correa’s government.
The Reporters Without Borders page for Ecuador has more such stories (including this one reporting on the selective enforcement, at Correa’s urging, of a ban on “electioneering” communications after an opposition newspaper urged a NO vote on certain referendum items). And this Economist story summarizes the most recent attempt by Correa to subjugate and silence the press in his country. It includes this quote:
The new regulatory powers have stoked those fears. “This is a law that will consolidate a state of propaganda in the country and which will strip citizens of the right to freedom of expression and of the right of access to information,” said the country’s association of newspaper publishers. El Universo, a national daily, pledged to continue its editorial policy in spite of what it sees as the government’s attempt to restrict free reporting. Nevertheless, journalists and columnists speak of growing self-censorship prompted by fear of reprisals. International journalists’ organisations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders chimed in to criticise the new law.
Snowden may be committed to something. But it is certainly not independent journalism or freedom of speech.
*Image: By Wilson Dias/ABr (Agência Brasil ) [CC-BY-3.0-br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons