Ecuador President Rafael Correa has pardoned three newspaper publishers and a columnist who had been sentenced to jail and ordered to pay over $40 million in damages to Correa.
The publishers of El Universo newspaper — brothers Carlos, Cesar and Nicolas Perez — and former columnist Emilio Palacio were found guilty of libeling the president after Correa sued them over a controversial opinion article.
Correa, a widely popular president compared with the failed leaders before him, tried to throw the same accusation back at the press.
"They have been talking about a dictatorship and they were right because there's a dictatorship and there's a government that has been fighting that dictatorship, the dictatorship of the media," he said, according to Reuters.
However, the BBC reports that in Correa’s televised statement he said, “I never wanted this trial. I never wanted anyone arrested.”
El Universo’s Carlos Perez was holed up in the Panamanian embassy in the Ecuadorean capital of Quito while the other accused newsmen were believed to be out of the country, according to the BBC.