30 Dead In Ecuador’s Latest Prison Violence – Officials

Ecuador’s flag

 

Thirty prisoners were killed and 47 wounded in a battle between armed inmates aligned to rival gangs at a jail in Ecuador’s largest city Tuesday, officials said.

It was the latest in a series of deadly clashes in Ecuador’s overpopulated and understaffed prisons that have killed more than 120 inmates so far this year.

The police chief of Guayaquil city, Fausto Buenano, on Wednesday updated the death toll from the latest clash from 29 to 30.

At least six were beheaded, according to the national prosecutor’s office.

“Thanks to police entering (the prison), more deaths inside were prevented,” said Buenano, in charge of the operation to retake control. He said the officers were attacked with guns.

President Guillermo Lasso retweeted an announcement from the prison bureau saying order “has been restored” after the clashes late Tuesday.

Ecuador’s prison system has become a battleground between prisoners linked to Mexican drug gangs — mainly the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.

On February 23, simultaneous riots at four jails including Guayaquil left 79 inmates dead, several of them beheaded.

– ‘A war’ –
Last week, police confiscated two pistols, a revolver, some 500 rounds of ammunition, a hand grenade, several knives, two sticks of dynamite and homemade explosives at one of the city’s prisons.

Two weeks ago, Guayaquil’s Prison Number 4 was attacked by drones, part of “a war between international cartels,” prison authorities said. There were no casualties in that attack.

“There has been a prison crisis since 2010, with an average of 25 homicides per year, but it has accelerated significantly from 2017 to the peak of this year, in which we must have already surpassed 160 homicides,” Ecuadorian security expert Fernando Carrion told AFP.

Ecuador’s prison system has 65 facilities designed for about 30,000 but an actual population of 39,000 inmates, and chronic staffing shortages.

The country’s human rights ombudsman said there were 103 killings in prisons in 2020, with corruption enabling inmates to bring in arms and ammunition.

Located between Colombia and Peru, the world’s leading cocaine producers, Ecuador is a key transit for drug shipments to the United States and Europe.

Guayaquil is Ecuador’s main port city.

Between January and August this year, Ecuadorian authorities seized about 116 tons of drugs, mainly cocaine, compared to 128 tons in all of 2020.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has condemned the ongoing violence in Ecuador’s prisons.

AFP

Ecuador Declares Emergency After 22 Die In Prison Riots

A relative of an inmate speaks to the police while waiting for information outside the Sierra Centro Norte prison in Latacunga, Ecuador, on July 22, 2021, after a riot occured. – Riots at two prisons in Ecuador on Wednesday left 21 dead, authorities said. (Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA / AFP)

 

 

Ecuador on Thursday declared a state of emergency in its penitentiary system after riots at two prisons left 22 dead and 57 wounded.

President Guillermo Lasso issued the order “to mobilize all necessary human and economic resources to re-establish order” in Ecuador’s prisons.

Lasso said the military would be in charge of controlling the prison perimeter and entry, while police officers would control the inside.

Until now civilians trained as prison guards were in charge of indoor security.

Prison authorities earlier suspended all activities “that could put the penitentiary population and administrative personnel at risk.”

Outside visits were cancelled at some prisons.

Among the wounded in the riots at prisons in Guayas, in southwestern Ecuador, and Cotopaxi, in the center of the country, were eight police officers. An earlier toll had reported 21 deaths.

Fourteen inmates died in Cotopaxi, including one who died in the hospital, and five police officers were wounded, government minister Alexandra Vela said.

In Guayas there were eight prisoner deaths and three wounded police officers.

Amid the chaos and unrest a police officer was raped, Vela said.

The same two penitentiaries were involved in a wave of riots that broke out in February. In a single day, 79 inmates died in clashes between rival gangs vying for control.

In those riots, inmates were decapitated and burnt in violence that exposed the power of prison gangs and shocked the South American nation.

 

Relatives of the inmates cry while waiting for information outside the Sierra Centro Norte prison in Latacunga, Ecuador, on July 22, 2021, after a riot occured. – Riots at two prisons in Ecuador on Wednesday left 21 dead, authorities said. (Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA / AFP)

 

– Severe overcrowding –
Cotopaxi Governor Oswaldo Coronel said “high-caliber firearms” and explosives were used during the riots “which has caused a large amount of destruction inside” the prisons.

Several Cotopaxi prisoners also managed to escape at dawn. Police have not said how many slipped out, but did say that they managed to re-capture 78 of them.

President Lasso, who took office just in May, fired the head of the SNAI prisons management body and replaced him with a reserve army colonel.

Ecuador’s prison system has about 60 facilities designed for 29,000 inmates but is burdened by overcrowding and staffing shortages.

About 38,000 detainees are watched over by 1,500 guards, a shortfall of some 2,500, according to experts.

Ecuador’s human rights ombudsman says there were 103 killings in Ecuador’s prisons in 2020.

In an attempt to counter the violence, former president Lenin Moreno declared a state of emergency several times, including for three months in 2020.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Ecuador has used alternative sentences for minor offenses as a means of easing its prison population, which reduced overcrowding from 42 percent to 30 percent.

Guillermo Lasso Wins Ecuador Presidency As Arauz Concedes

Ecuadorean presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso (R) waves supporters as he celebrates his victory after knowing the preliminary results of the election runoff at the Conventions Center in Guayaquil, Ecuador on April 11, 2021. 
Fernando Mendez / AFP

 

Former banker Guillermo Lasso won Ecuador’s presidential election on Sunday after his socialist opponent Andres Arauz conceded.

Conservative Lasso declared himself president-elect and accepted the “challenge” of changing Ecuador’s “destiny.”

With 93 percent of votes counted, Lasso held a lead of almost five percentage points over economist Arauz.

“On May 24 we will assume with responsibility the challenge of changing our country’s destiny and achieving for all Ecuador the opportunities and prosperity we all yearn for,” said Lasso.

Economist Arauz, best known as the protege of former president Rafael Correa, was magnanimous despite earlier claiming victory following a tight exit poll.

“I congratulate him on his electoral triumph today and I will show him our democratic convictions,” said Arauz.

Lasso had 52.51 percent of the vote compared with Arauz’s 47.49 percent with 93.14 percent of votes counted, the National Electoral Council said.

Seasoned politician Lasso, 65, has twice before finished second in presidential votes.

Earlier, television stations Ecuavisa and Teleamazonas published the results of the Cedatos exit poll that gave Lasso almost a 6.5 percentage point lead over Arauz.

But the stations also said the Clima Social pollsters had indicated the result was a technical draw and thus decided not to publish their figures.

Arauz’s campaign team had used that poll to claim victory by 1.6 percentage points.

The director-general of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, congratulated Lasso on the win, saying he hoped they could work together in “strengthening democracy, human rights, security and development.”

Both Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou and Luis Abinader, president of the Dominican Republic, said on Twitter they had called Lasso to offer their congratulations

“I am sure that we are both going to work for the economic recovery of our peoples and the generation of jobs for our fellow citizens,” Abinader wrote.

– ‘Social division’ –

Voting is obligatory, and opinion polls had the rivals neck and neck heading into the election for oil-rich Ecuador’s 13.1 million registered voters to pick a successor to the deeply unpopular Lenin Moreno.

The campaign in the South American country had been dominated by an economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Arauz, 36, is virtually unknown but topped February’s first round of voting on the back of support from his mentor, Correa, who led the country from 2007-2017.

He didn’t vote on Sunday because he is still registered in Mexico, where he was studying for a doctorate before deciding to run in the election.

Lasso, 65, is a third-time presidential candidate having finished second to Correa in 2013 and Moreno in 2017.

Many experts billed the election as a battle of “Correism versus anti-Correism” in a country bitterly divided along political lines.

“This social division, that the campaign highlighted, means that the vote to reject Correa effectively goes to Lasso,” said Pablo Romero, an analyst at Salesiana University.

Correa would have been Arauz’s running mate but for an eight-year conviction for corruption.

He lives in exile in Belgium, where his wife was born, avoiding his prison sentence. But his influence on Ecuadoran politics remains strong.

Arauz, the candidate from the Union of Hope coalition, topped the first round with almost 33 percent of the vote, 13 percentage points ahead of Lasso, from the Creating Opportunities movement.

– ‘Permanent tension’ –

Lasso will take over from beleaguered Moreno on May 24 and will immediately face an economic crisis exasperated by a 7.8 percent contraction in GDP in 2020.

Overall debt is almost $64 billion — 63 percent of GDP — of which $45 billion is external debt.

At the same time, the country has been hard-hit by the pandemic, with hospitals overwhelmed by more than 340,000 coronavirus infections and more than 17,000 deaths.

Lasso also faces a tough job during his four-year term with Arauz’s leftist coalition the largest party in parliament.

“There will be permanent tension with the executive. There’s almost no chance of the reforms the country needs,” said Romero.

Lasso scraped into the runoff by less than half a percentage point ahead of indigenous candidate Yaku Perez, who contested the result and claimed to have been the victim of fraud.

Socialist Perez, whose Pachakutik indigenous movement is the second-largest bloc in the legislature, picked up more than 19 percent of the vote in the first round.

Pachakutik refused to back either candidate in the second round and promoted blank votes.

Perez publically annulled his own vote writing “Yaku president resistance” on his ballot.

Around 16 percent of votes were invalid, up from 9.55 percent in the first round.

At Least 75 Inmates Dead In Ecuador Prison Riots

 

 

At least 75 inmates died Tuesday and several were injured in riots blamed on gang rivalry at three jails in Ecuador’s overcrowded prison system, authorities said.

As security forces battled to regain control, distraught family members waited desperately for news outside the prison in Ecuador’s western port city of Guayaquil, where officials said 21 died.

Another 33 died at the prison in Cuenca in the south and eight in Latacunga in the center of the South American country, according to Edmundo Moncayo, director of the government’s SNAI prisons management body.

“We want the death list given to us,” said Daniela Soria, 29, one of about 40 women outside the Guayaquil prison, many of them in tears.

“We know that the problems are not over because everyone there has a phone and my husband doesn’t call me,” she told AFP.

Earlier, she received a WhatsApp voice message from her husband, Ricardo, which she played back for AFP. “They are going to kill me, get me out of here!” he could be heard exclaiming, the last she heard from him.

Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno, on Twitter, attributed the riots to “criminal organizations” engaged in “simultaneous acts of violence in several prisons.”

The authorities, he said, “are acting to retake control.”

The military was deployed to help police quell the uprising.

The public defender’s office, an entity akin to an ombudsman set up to defend human rights, called the violence “an unprecedented massacre” and expressed its “concern over the lack of security in the country, which is reflected in the increase in crime and violence inside these prison facilities.”

‘Like a market’

The prosecuting authority said several inmates were left injured in fighting between “criminal gangs,” including two at Guayaquil in serious condition.

Several police were also injured, said Moncayo, but no deaths have been reported among security personnel.

Police commander Patricio Carrillo described the situation as “critical,” while Interior Minister Patricio Pazmino created a centralized command post to respond to what he said was “concerted action by criminal organizations to generate violence in penitentiary centers.”

The prison authority described fierce fighting between organized gangs that go by names such as Los Pipos, Los Lobos and Tigrones. They rely on drug trafficking and operate their criminal enterprises from prison.

Moncayo told reporters that on Monday, guards seized two firearms that were to be used to kill the leader of a group imprisoned in Guayaquil.

“Inside, it is like a market. There is everything: drugs, arms, even puppies. Everything is sold,” said Soria, the wife of prisoner Ricardo.

In order to reduce prisoner numbers amid the coronavirus epidemic, the government commuted the sentences of people convicted of minor offences, reducing overcrowding from 42 percent to 30 percent.

This still leaves Ecuador’s prison system, with a capacity to house 29,000 inmates in 60-odd facilities, with a prisoner population of 38,000.

There are 1,500 guards to oversee them.

Dearth of guards

The SNAI has said a dearth of personnel “hinders immediate response” to prisoner revolts.

Last year, inmate disputes left 51 dead, according to police figures.

A 90-day state of emergency in the country’s jails was ordered by Moreno last year to try to bring gang activity under control and reduce the violence.

But just in December, prison unrest left 11 prisoners dead and seven injured.

Tuesday’s riots coincided with a march of hundreds of indigenous people on Quito to demand a vote recount after a first round of presidential elections this month saw their candidate left out in the cold.

Former Ecuador Deputy President Bags Fresh Eight-Year Jail Term

Man Bags 15 Years In Prison For N5.2m Fraud
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

A court in Ecuador on Monday sentenced former vice president Jorge Glas, already serving a jail term, to another eight years in prison for misuse of public funds related to the awarding of an oil contract.

The court said it had found Glas guilty of the crime of embezzlement, along with two former energy ministers among the co-perpetrators.

Glas is already serving a six-year term for having received millions of dollars in kickbacks as part of a corruption scandal.

READ ALSO: California Ends Wide Lockdown As COVID-19 Hospital Strain Eases

He was convicted of receiving $13.5 million in bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht, and has been imprisoned in Latacunga, south of Quito, since 2017.

He served as the vice president under leftist Rafael Correa between 2013 and 2017, and under president Lenin Moreno until he was stripped of his office in 2018.

In the current case, he is accused of having illicitly awarded an oil field contract in a scheme the prosecutor’s office said cost the country $28 million.

Along with former boss Correa, Glas was also sentenced last year to another eight-year prison sentence for corruption.

Correa lives in exile in Belgium, claiming political persecution.

AFP

Messi Fires Argentina To WC Qualifying Win Over Ecuador

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (L) eludes Ecuador’s Angel Mena during their 2022 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires on October 8, 2020, amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. Marcelo Endelli / POOL / AFP

 

Lionel Messi put his Barcelona troubles behind him to fire Argentina to an opening 1-0 victory over Ecuador in World Cup qualifying on Thursday.

The 33-year-old great has been in open conflict with his club but it had no detrimental effect on his form as his 13th-minute penalty was the difference in a tight encounter.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner unsuccessfully tried to force his way out of the Catalan giants in the close season but he seemed much happier in the light blue and white jersey of his country.

And Argentina needed him to be on top form in a bid to avoid slipping up at home to Ecuador for the second successive time in an opening World Cup qualifier having lost 2-0 to the same opponents four years ago.

Ecuador’s goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez (R) and Argentina’s Lionel Messi greet each other at the end of their 2022 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match at La Bombonera stadium in Buenos Aires on October 8, 2020, amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.
AGUSTIN MARCARIAN / POOL / AFP

 

In the surreal atmosphere of an empty Bombonera — the iconic stadium in Buenos Aires that is usually bouncing from the passion of fervent fans was left barren by coronavirus restrictions — Argentina never looked in danger of another shock defeat.

The hosts predictably dominated possession but struggled to break down an organized and physical Ecuador outfit that proved a different proposition to the one dispatched 6-1 in a friendly a year ago.

The breakthrough came after a reckless challenge by Pervis Estupinan sent Lucas Ocampo sprawling in the box, with Messi stepping up to lash home his 71st international goal.

Ocampos was presented with a glorious chance to double the lead early in the second half but goalkeeper Alexander Dominguez dived full length to keep out his low shot from eight yards.

Rodrigo De Paul fired narrowly wide for the hosts with the last kick of the match.

In Montevideo, Luis Suarez scored a record-extending 60th international goal for Uruguay before substitute Maxi Gomez bagged an injury-time winner against Chile.

Atletico Madrid forward Suarez opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 39 minutes after Sebastian Vegas was harshly penalized for handball.

Inter Milan’s Alexis Sanchez equalised with a low shot on 54 minutes but Gomez had the last word with a stunning half-volley from 20 yards to complete the 2-1 win.

It was honors even between Paraguay and Peru in Asuncion as Angel Romero for the hosts and Andre Carrillo both scored a brace.

AFP

COVID-19: Trump To Sell Ventilators To Developing Countries To Fight Virus

FUS President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference on COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2020. Trump is declaring coronavirus a national emergency. SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

President Donald Trump’s administration said Friday it would sell ventilators to at least four developing countries to fight the coronavirus, saying US needs were being met.

Trump said he spoke by telephone to the presidents of Indonesia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Honduras and promised that the United States would send the vital medical equipment.

“We will be sending them desperately needed Ventilators, of which we have recently manufactured many, and helping them in other ways,” Trump wrote on Twitter of his call to President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, which has seen a spike in coronavirus cases.

Michael Kozak, the top US diplomat for Latin America, confirmed the United States was selling the ventilators.

“We’re seeing our own needs met; we can become an exporter again,” Kozak told reporters.

“I think in many of these cases that the countries just want to buy them. They aren’t asking us for financing,” he said.

But Kozak said some countries may use assistance from the United States to make the purchases.

Governors led by New York’s Andrew Cuomo said they were seriously short of ventilators at the start of the pandemic and had faulted the federal government.

But Cuomo last week said New York would send ventilators to Michigan and Maryland as the situation had stabilized in his own state — the worst-hit by the pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 people in the United States.

With companies such as Ford and General Motors switching to ventilator production, Trump has boasted that the country as a whole is in good shape and said foreign leaders were asking him for supplies.

“No country is equipped like we are. We have 11 different places making ventilators,” Trump told reporters Thursday.

“Our country, as you know, doesn’t need them now. Our governors are very happy,” Trump said.

In his tweets, Trump praised Honduras and El Salvador for helping curb emigration to the United States — a signature issue for the mogul-turned-president.

Guatemala is also a major source of migrants but has temporarily stopped accepting deported citizens from the United States due to coronavirus infections.

Kozak said that Guatemala — not mentioned in Trump’s tweets on ventilators — was not being punished.

“There isn’t some hard linkage here between cooperation on removals and ventilators. We’re trying to get medicine and medical supplies to anybody who needs them”

Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets Fight Back To Beat Ecuador

Golden Eaglets celebrate one of their goals against Ecuador during their FIFA U-17 World Cup match in Brazil on October 29, 2019. [email protected]

 

 

Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets have maintained their perfect start at the FIFA U-17 World Cup tournament ongoing in Brazil.

The team continued their winning streak on Tuesday night in Goiania with a brilliant fightback against Ecuador in the second Group B match of the competition.

The fascinating match began with a superb performance from Ibrahim Sa’id who netted the opener for the five-time champions just five minutes after kickoff.

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Moments later, defender Daniel Jinadu made a mistake which led to an own goal against Nigeria as Ecuador grabbed an equaliser and sustained it till the end of the first half.

Barely 10 minutes after the restart, the Eaglets got committed a foul in the box-18 while Johan Mina set the South American side on the lead with a goal from the penalty spot.

Nigeria’s Ibrahim Sa’id celebrates after the Golden Eaglets beat Ecuador on October 29, 2019. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

However, Nigeria’s hopes of winning were revived again when Sa’id scored an equaliser in the eighty-fifth minute and reclaimed the lead for the Eaglets four minutes later.

With Saíd’s hat-trick, Nigeria sit top of Group B with six points while Ecuador are second with three points.

On the other hand, Hungary and Australia, who will meet on Wednesday, are third and fourth on the table.

The Eaglets beat Hungary 4-2 in the opening match while Ecuador defeated Australia 2-1.

Ecuador Govt, Protesters Agree To End Violent Protests

An Ecuadorean native waves a national flag during the 10th day of a protest over a fuel price hike ordered by the government to secure an IMF loan, in the surroundings of the National Assembly in Quito on October 12, 2019. Martin BERNETTI / AFP

 

 

Ecuador’s president and indigenous leaders reached an agreement Sunday to end nearly two weeks of violent protests against austerity measures adopted to obtain a multi-billion-dollar loan from the IMF.

The demonstrations have left seven people dead and were sparked when President Lenin Moreno scrapped fuel subsidies to obtain a $4.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, causing prices to double.

Moreno met with Jaime Vargas, the head of the indigenous umbrella grouping CONAIE, for four hours of talks in the capital Quito broadcast live on state television.

“With this agreement, the mobilizations… across Ecuador are terminated and we commit ourselves to restoring peace in the country,” said a joint statement, adding the government had withdrawn an order that removed fuel subsidies.

Thousands flooded into the streets of Quito shortly after the announcement, waving the national flag, honking horns and setting off fireworks in celebration.

The statement was read by an official from the United Nations, which mediated the talks along with the Catholic Church.

“The measures applied in all our territories are lifted,” confirmed Vargas, referring to roads and oil facilities in the Amazon blocked by protesters for almost two weeks. Those actions suspended the distribution of almost 70 percent of the country’s crude oil.

Indigenous groups make up a quarter of Ecuador’s 17.3 million people. Thousands who had traveled from disadvantaged communities across the Amazon and the Andes to spearhead the protests in Quito started to head home after the deal was announced.

“Indigenous brothers, I have always treated you with respect and affection,” Moreno said as the talks opened. “It was never my intention to affect the poorest sectors.”

Moreno had previously declared a curfew and placed Quito under military control to quell the unrest.

On Sunday, violent clashes continued before the talks began as police fought to disperse protesters who tried to put up a barricade of debris from Saturday’s unrest.

Authorities said 1,349 people had been injured and 1,152 detained in the demonstrations.

The violence forced Moreno to relocate his government to Ecuador’s second city, Guayaquil, and hit the oil industry hard with the energy ministry suspending more than two-thirds of its distribution of crude.

– Buildings ransacked –

CONAIE had previously rejected an offer of dialogue but reversed course Saturday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called on all groups “to commit to inclusive and meaningful talks, and to work in good faith towards a peaceful solution.”

Demonstrators on Saturday ransacked and set fire to the building housing the comptroller general’s office, which was shrouded in thick smoke after being attacked with firebombs.

The prosecutor’s office said 34 people were arrested.

Protesters on Saturday also targeted a television station and a newspaper.

The Teleamazonas TV channel interrupted its regular broadcast to air images of broken windows, a burned vehicle and heavy police presence on the scene.

The station evacuated 25 employees, none of them hurt.

Nearby, protesters built barricades in front of the National Assembly building as police fired tear gas at them.

“We have nothing to do with the events at the comptroller’s office and Teleamazonas,” said CONAIE.

El Comercio newspaper reported on Twitter that its offices were attacked by a “group of unknowns.”

Protesters did not immediately heed the curfew that went into effect on Saturday, with security forces struggling to impose order in some parts of the city.

“Where are the mothers and fathers of the police? Why do they let them kill us?” cried Nancy Quinyupani, an indigenous woman.

The restrictions in Quito, a city of 2.7 million, came on top of a state of emergency Moreno had declared on October 3, deploying some 75,000 military and police and imposing a nighttime curfew in the vicinity of government buildings.

Moreno is struggling with an economic crisis that he blames on waste and corruption by Correa’s administration.

AFP

Almost Entire Population Of Ecuador Has Online Data Leaked

Ecuador’s flag

Almost the entire population of Ecuador had their personal data leaked online in a major security breach, officials and security experts said on Monday.

Data on an estimated 20 million people, including almost seven million minors as well as deceased citizens, was exposed by the breach, the state attorney general’s office said.

The data was hosted on an unsecured server run by an Ecuadoran marketing and analytics firm.

“The information that I can share with you at this moment is that this is a very delicate issue, it is a major concern for the whole of the government and the state,” said Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo.

The South American nation has a population of 17 million, according to the UN Population Fund.

Ecuadoran authorities said the data was allegedly from a server-based in the United States.

The security company vpnMentor uncovered the breach on the server run by the firm Novaestrat, which included citizens’ full names, dates, and places of birth, education levels, phone numbers, and national identity card numbers.

ZDNet, the cybersecurity website that first reported the breach, said there was even data on the country’s president and on Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who applied for asylum in Ecuador and spent years holed up in the country’s London embassy before being arrested this year by British police.

As part of his application for asylum, Assange was issued an Ecuadoran identity card.

The security company contacted Ecuador’s Computer Emergency Response Team to secure the leaked data, ZDNet said.

Romo said the government was “working on an investigation which will permit us in the coming hours to assess who is responsible for what happened.”

“I hope, too, that in the hours to come, the telecommunications ministry will be able to assess more thoroughly technical information about data protection.”

Authorities in Ecuador said they had raided Novaestrat’s office to collect evidence, including computers and electronic equipment.

The ministry of telecommunications, meanwhile, said it would send a bill on personal data protection to the National Assembly as part of the government’s efforts to prevent such leaks.

AFP

7.5-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Ecuador

Ecuador’s flag

 

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.5 hit Ecuador Friday but there were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

The quake struck before dawn in Ecuador’s eastern Amazon region 17 kilometers (10 miles) from the town of Montalvo near the border with Peru, the US Geological Survey said.

It hit at a depth of 132 kilometers. Most major earthquakes in South America are at shallow depths of 70 kilometers or less, the USGS said.

There were two aftershocks, one in the same area and with a magnitude of just over 6.0, Ecuador’s Geophysics Institute said. It gave the same 7.5 magnitude for the big quake.

“We have no reports of injuries so far, just some broken windows,” said Tarcisio Ojeda, mayor of the town of Macas, in Morona Santiago province where the quake hit.

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Emergency rescue teams were activated.

The other aftershock hit the Pacific coast region of Guayas but it did not do any harm either, President Lenin Moreno said on Twitter.

None of three tremors had the right features to trigger a tsunami alert, the Navy’s Oceanographic Institute said.

In 2016 a quake with a magnitude of 7.8 hit the western provinces of Manabi and Esmeraldas, killing 673 people and causing an estimated $3 billion in damage.

AFP

No Extradition Request For Assange, Says Ecuador

 

Ecuador said Wednesday it has received no extradition request for Julian Assange, which his lawyers have long cited as the reason the WikiLeaks founder has refused to leave its London embassy.

“We have told Mr Assange: ‘Up to now, as far as we know, there is no extradition request from any country,'” Foreign Minister Jose Valencia told state-owned Radio Public.

The 47-year-old Australian has been holed up at Ecuador’s embassy since 2012, but Ecuador has shown increasing signs in recent months that it is preparing to terminate his six-year stay.

Valencia said the cost of hosting Assange so far had come to around six million dollars.

Assange fears being extradited to the United States to face charges over the WikiLeaks website’s release of troves of sensitive US government files.

He found refuge in the embassy in London after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to face allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.

That case has since been dropped, but Britain still wants him to face justice over breaching his bail conditions following his arrest on the sexual assault allegations.

His lawyer Carlos Poveda said last month Assange was prepared to surrender to British police if he receives assurances he will not be extradited.

“What England asks of him is to appear before the British courts to answer for having broken the conditions of his provisional release,” the foreign minister said.

“We do not see the British changing their point of view, they continue to insist that he appear before the courts and that they will not give him safe passage to another country,” said Valencia.

Ecuador said it had been informed by Britain that the penalty for violating parole conditions would not be more than six months.

Assange is currently suing Ecuador on grounds that his rights were violated by its decision to restrict his internet access. An Ecuadoran court threw out the lawsuit last week, but Assange is appealing.

Quito confirmed blocking Assange’s internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking “a written commitment” not to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policies.

A protocol governing Assange’s stay at the embassy — revealed by Ecuadoran internet site Codigo Vidrio and never denied by Quito — warns that further breaches will lead to “termination of asylum.”

AFP