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Exploding Pen Drives Mailed to 5 Ecuador TV Stations, One Explodes in Journalist’s Face

Letter bombs had been despatched to at the least 5 journalists working in TV and radio stations in violence-plagued Ecuador Monday, certainly one of which exploded with out inflicting critical harm, Inside Minister Juan Zapata mentioned.

The prosecutor’s workplace mentioned it had opened an investigation into the crime of terrorism, with out stating why the information stations had been particularly focused, or by whom.

The inside minister mentioned the envelopes had been despatched from the city of Quimsaloma, within the coastal province of Los Rios. Three had been despatched to Guayaquil within the southwest and two to the capital Quito.

The “gadget is certainly the identical in all 5 locations,” Zapata advised reporters.

Within the port metropolis of Guayaquil, journalist Lenin Artieda of the Ecuavisa non-public TV station obtained an envelope containing a pen drive which exploded when he inserted it into a pc, his employer mentioned.

Artieda sustained slight accidents to 1 hand and his face, mentioned police official Xavier Chango. Nobody else was damage.

Chango mentioned the USB drive despatched to Artieda might have been loaded with RDX, a military-type explosive.

One other bundle addressed to journalist Carlos Vera was intercepted by the police at a courier firm in Guayaquil and didn’t attain its vacation spot, Zapata mentioned.

Elsewhere in Guayaquil in Ecuador’s southwest, the prosecutor’s workplace mentioned a letter bomb was additionally despatched to the workplaces of TC Tv.

There’s “a fully clear message to silence journalists,” mentioned the minister.

New escalation

The Teleamazonas chain later mentioned it had additionally obtained a USB stick at its workplaces in Quito “with the identical traits” because the one despatched to Ecuavisa.

The Fundamedios NGO which advocates for press freedom, mentioned the three “assaults used the identical modus operandi.”

Envelopes with USB sticks had been addressed to Artieda in addition to to Mauricio Ayora of TC Tv and Milton Perez of Teleamazonas, it mentioned in a press release.

The envelope addressed to Artieda contained a risk in opposition to the journalist, mentioned Fundamedios.

The one to Teleamazonas, it added, contained a be aware that claimed the stick contained data on “Correismo” — a political motion named after former president Rafael Correa.

The letters represented “a brand new escalation in violence in opposition to the press, mentioned Fundamedios, and known as for “rapid intervention of the State”.

The federal government mentioned in a press release it “categorically rejects any type of violence perpetrated in opposition to journalists and media shops.”

Any try and “intimidate journalism and freedom of expression are repugnant,” it added.

The CDH human rights watchdog additionally condemned the assaults on media “within the context of rising insecurity in Ecuador.”

Ecuador is sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine producers, and has itself develop into a hub for the worldwide drug commerce in recent times.

Guayaquil is certainly one of its most violent cities, with frequent clashes between prison gangs disputing drug trafficking routes.

President Guillermo Lasso has declared conflict on gangs who management the drug commerce from prisons engulfed by excessive violence and riots which have left greater than 400 inmates lifeless since 2021.

Ecuador has seen its homicide price leap from 14 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2021 to 25 per 100,000 in 2022.

Final 12 months, the RTS TV station got here beneath gunfire assault, and in 2020 a bomb exploded at Teleamazonas.

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