July 28, 2009

President Rafael Correa
Palacio de Carondelet
Garcia Moreno 1043
Entre Chile y Espejo
Quito, Ecuador
Fax: +593 2 258 0714

Minister Ab. Néstor Arbito Chica

Ministro de Justicia y Derechos Humanos
Av. Amazonas 4545 y Atahualpa
Edif. Anexo al ex Banco Central
Quito, Ecuador
Fax: +593 2 292 3804

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to protest the re-imprisonment of editor Milton Chacaguasay Flores.

According to our information, on July 9, 2009, Milton Chacaguasay Flores, editor and director of the weekly Machala-based newspaper La Verdad, was re-imprisoned following a new verdict on the same offense for which he was previously imprisoned. On November 30, 2008, a criminal court in the southwestern province of El Oro sentenced Chacaguasay to 10 months’ imprisonment for allegedly libeling a judge. The judge, who filed the case in late 2007, claimed that Chacaguasay had accused him of corruption in a report published in La Verdad in September 2007. Chacaguasay was released on parole in mid-May 2009, having served half his sentence.

Chacaguasay reportedly did not have the opportunity to defend himself against the new charges and has denounced serious violations of due process. He says he fears for his life in prison and has requested protection from the authorities. The new sentence is due to expire on November 8, 2009.

PEN American Center believes the conviction and re-imprisonment of Milton Chacaguasay Flores to be in violation of his right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Ecuador is party. We therefore reiterate our call for his immediate and unconditional release, as well as the release of all writers persecuted solely for their writing, and urge the Ecuadorian government to decriminalize press offenses in line with Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Hannah Pakula                   
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee   

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Ambassador Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga
Embassy of Ecuador to the United States
2535 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
Fax: (202) 667-3482

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