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Mon Aug 20, 2012, 09:57 PM

In Ecuador, a dissident fights extradition

Source: Associated Press

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) In granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last week, Ecuador's foreign minister described a generous national policy of accepting political refugees. But that generosity may have its limits.

Aliaksandr Barankov, a former financial crimes investigator from Belarus, is in imminent danger of losing that status and being sent home, where he says he fears he will be killed because he has denounced corruption at the highest levels of government.

Barankov, 30, faces an Ecuadorean judge's ruling as early as Tuesday on an extradition request from Belarus, where prosecutors accuse him of fraud and extortion. Barankov contends he uncovered a petroleum-smuggling ring involving senior officials of President Alexander Lukashenko's government, including relatives of the leader.

He calls the criminal charges against him bogus, and is backed by rights activists in the former Soviet bloc nation, which Lukashenko has ruled since 1994. His government has been condemned for election fraud, represses opposition groups and independent news media, and jails dissidents. Lukashenko has kept about 80 percent of industry in state hands and earned the nickname in the West of "Europe's last dictator."

"They accuse me of fraud and corruption," Barankov said by phone from prison Friday. "It's easy to accuse (someone) of this because the police, courts and prosecutor's office are employees of the president and his family."

Read more: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hPrIFz5tp6Qn0XYRIawsRECHWbBA?docId=4a03faaf741e4fe0b1f2d8d9847fd8bd

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Reply In Ecuador, a dissident fights extradition (Original post)
Robb Aug 2012 OP
Peace Patriot Aug 2012 #1
tama Aug 2012 #2
ronnie624 Aug 2012 #3
Judi Lynn Aug 2012 #4
joshcryer Aug 2012 #7
hack89 Aug 2012 #9
Tx4obama Aug 2012 #5
go west young man Aug 2012 #6
Judi Lynn Aug 2012 #8

Response to Robb (Original post)

Tue Aug 21, 2012, 01:31 AM

1. I don't trust the Associated Pukes to give us all relevant facts on ANY issue in Latin America.

Their lede line, "But that generosity may have its limits," gives away what they have done in this article. They've gone out hunting for an example by which they can dis this leftist government's decision on Assange. They intend, by the example they found, to prove to their readers that Ecuador ain't so "generous" and is, instead, hypocritical.

This is typical Associated Pukes journalism. They do it within articles as well, hunting for quotes from "experts" or rightwing sources to fill in the rightwing/corporate/war profiteer "talking points" that they, a priori, intend to include in articles about leftist leaders, and when they can't get a quote, they use "His critics say..." without attribution. The point of ALL of their articles on this subject is to slander and demean leftist leaders, while never EVER acknowledging these leaders' significant achievements or why on earth these leaders have 60% to 70% approval ratings in their countries, and get elected by big majorities.

So that's number one. I've seen too many examples of AP misinformation and disinformation on the LatAm's Left. That's all they do. I've NEVER seen even an attempt at objectivity or balance on Hugo Chavez/Venezuela, Rafael Correa/Ecuador, Daniel Ortega/Nicaragua, Mel Zelaya/Honduras, Nestor Kirchner and Christina Fernandez/Argentina, and, for the most part, none on Evo Morales/Bolivia--and, of course, none on Castro/Cuba.

Secondly, IF they were an objective news service with the goal of creating a well-informed public, this article--at least its general info about Barankov and his asylum quest--would be justifiable as a subject of news interest--how Ecuador handles other asylum cases and a specific instance of it. However, the opener-- "But that generosity may have its limits"--is an editorial opinion. It is not news. In whose opinion does Barankov's case point to limits on Ecuador's generosity on political asylum? This statement about "generosity" is, as worded in the article, the opinion of the reporter or his/her editor or his/her bosses--and a sarcastic opinion at that. And it is an editorial comment parading as news.

Barankov doesn't make any statement comparing his case to Assange's on Ecuador's "generosity," nor do his supporters who are quoted in the article. This is an invention of the reporter. It is intended to make you dislike Correa and think of him as a hypocrite, at the outset of the article.

Political asylum is always, in every country, decided on a case by case basis. Maybe this man has a good case. He says that he does. But maybe he does not. He is having legal hearings about it. He has a lawyer. The decision about him has not yet been made.

Which brings me to the second editorial comment in this article--that the Ecuadoran government is changing its mind about political asylum for Barankov because of trade and other agreements with Belarus. Here is most of this portion of the article:

--

"Later that month, Lukashenko (Belarusian leader) visited Ecuador for two days, signing agreements on trade, education, agriculture and the eventual exchange of diplomats with President Rafael Correa. A preliminary defense cooperation agreement was also signed. Under Correa, Ecuador has been deepening commercial and political ties with U.S. rivals including Iran, Russia and China.

"'Everything changed after Lukashenko came,' Barankov said by phone from Quito's cold, overcrowded century-old Prison No. 1. 'I want Ecuadoreans to open their eyes and see what's happening to me.'

"An official at the National Court of Justice said that Ramirez could rule as early as Tuesday on the new extradition request and that Barankov could lose despite his refugee status.

"It would then be up to Correa to decide whether he is extradited."


(SNIP)

"'He cannot be condemned to death or to life in prison because there is a signed guarantee from the Belarusian government that assures us of this. The guarantee was delivered during Lukashenko's visit,' said the court official, who agreed to discuss the case only if his name was not used because he was not authorized to make statements to the press.

"Barankov's Ecuadorean girlfriend, Mabel Andrade, told The Associated Press: 'We were more or less relaxed until President Lukashenko came. Immediately afterward, Ecuadorean authorities didn't want to renew his ID card and they wouldn't give us any explanation.'"


--from the OP (my emphasis)

--------------------------

At least this AP editorial opinion has some basis in Barankov's and his supporters' statements. THEY mention the visit of Lukashenko as a turning point. They don't, however, talk about trade agreements, etc. AP fills that in, the implication being that Correa is judging a political asylum request on other than political asylum issues.

AP claims that Ecuadoran officials haven't returned their calls. Did they call them at 3:00 a.m. or what? (Really, I wouldn't put it past them!) Government officials rarely comment on a legal case while it is in progress. That's why the court official, who is cited, has to speak anonymously. It is a no-no. But what that court official says is interesting.

--

"'He cannot be condemned to death or to life in prison because there is a signed guarantee from the Belarusian government that assures us of this. The guarantee was delivered during Lukashenko's visit,' said the court official...". --from the OP (my emphasis)

--

This is a BIG DEAL in Latin America--NOT extraditing people to countries (like our own) that execute prisoners. MOST LatAm extraditions (and European extraditions as well) contain a PROVISO that no death penalty will occur, and if they don't get that guarantee, they don't extradite. And in the case of Barankov, Ecuador apparently additionally insisted on no life in prison.

So THAT is what CHANGED as the result of Lukashenko's visit. It was Lukashenko seeking the trade and other agreements and Ecuador used his desire for such agreements to extract these written guarantees about Barankov.

Or that is one quite believable and reasonable way to construe these facts--an interpretation that is more favorable to the Ecuadoran government. AP doesn't mention this possibility. On its own volition, it puts the Ecuadoran government in the worst light possible.

It's quite possible that the Ecuadoran government feels that the criminal charges against Barankov have merit, but as long as the death penalty or life in prison hung over him, they gave him refugee status. And when that changed--when they'd gotten a written promise about it--their position on his status changed accordingly.

It is not possible to know if this is what occurred--the more favorable interpretation--because the case is in progress. The court hasn't ruled. Correa hasn't made a decision. (Such decisions usually contain an explanation.) Why, then, is AP assuming the worst?

Because they want to make the editorial point that they stated in the beginning, that Correa and his government are NOT "generous" and are hypocrites, liars and greedbags--letting a man's fate hang on trade agreements!

The exact opposite may well be true--that Ecuador has saved this man's life, using trade agreements as the pressure. This makes more sense in the Latin American context--general abhorrence of the death penalty, no matter the crime. But AP automatically excludes this possibility; never mentions it.

Another thing we don't know is what lengths the Ecuadoran government has gone to--for instance, in giving Barankov every benefit of the doubt--to make sure that, guilty or innocent of the crimes he is accused of, he is treated fairly. They've harbored him as a refugee for some time now, trying to determine the justice of the extradition request and also, it seems evident, trying to get guarantees about the death penalty and life in prison. AP gives us zero background on this and their excuse that government officials didn't return their calls just doesn't wash. If they don't have proper information to write the article, they should have delayed the article, and they most certainly should not have included all this spin against Correa.

Finally, what have Ecuador's trade agreements with "Iran, Russia and China" got to do with this? Nothing whatever, except in the minds of the Associated Pukes' owners and bosses and those whom they serve. The U.S. has all kinds of trade and defense agreements with questionable, and downright rotten, governments around the world. Does AP ever trot these out as "evidence" that the U.S. government is hypocritical? Saudi Arabia? Uzbekistan? Honduras? Colombia, for godssakes, where thousands of trade unionists and other advocates of the poor have been murdered by the U.S.-funded Colombian military, and, as in Honduras, the lives of journalists are every day in peril? China? Egypt under military rule?

You might say that the U.S. government uses trade agreements to influence these governments to be less repressive. And you might say the same thing about Ecuador--or the many other LatAm countries that are pursuing independent foreign and trade policies. Why make this slam at Ecuador for exercising the perfectly rightful sovereign power of making trade agreements with whomever they damn please, for whatever reasons move them?

U.S. trade agreements with China are okay, but Ecuador's trade agreements with China are not? Why? And Ecuador's trade agreements with Iran, Russia and China have WHAT to do with Barankov's request for political asylum? Maybe Ecuador will get some folks spared the death penalty in those countries (Iran, China--Russia doesn't have a death penalty or at least the Soviet Union did not--not sure about Putin) by means of trade agreements--similar guarantees to the ones they've sought for Barankov. That's the only connection that I can see--and it's a positive for Ecuador. But AP obviously doesn't mean this (the trade agreements with these other countries) as a positive for Ecuador, and there is no reason whatever for them to mention it, except to imply that Ecuador's government is bad because of these trade agreements and intends to sacrifice a "dissident" for trade advantages.

AP has an AGENDA in this so-called news article. Propaganda articles like this can contain information that is interesting--such as Barankov's case--but we should be very wary of the hidden agendas in reading news articles by the Corporate Press and read things very carefully.

One other point, re "Quito's cold, overcrowded century-old Prison No. 1." Has AP been to any U.S. prisons recently? To any U.S. detention centers for illegal immigrants? How about Guantanamo Bay? How about Bradley Manning's dungeon? U.S. prisons are among some of the most overcrowded in the world. They are a huge scandal in the civilized world. And inmates within them are routinely tortured with cold and other human rights violations.

It's not that AP shouldn't point out that Ecuador's prison is cold and overcrowded--just as it's not that they shouldn't write about Barankov's case. Though it's just yet another opinion by the reporter--no evidence whatever is cited to establish that it is cold or overcrowded--it is a reasonable news subject. My problem with it is that they are loading the case, which is entirely negative on Correa's leftist government throughout the article. We don't know what the Ecuadoran government might be doing to alleviate prison conditions. We don't know if this is an issue in Ecuador. We don't even have a statement by Barankov about it. Why this colorful writing--once again, with AP making a point that no one quoted in the article makes? It is gratuitous Correa-bashing on the basis of no evidence.

Once again, be wary. Read carefully.




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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 21, 2012, 09:46 AM

2. Well done, thanks

 

Worth posting (with little editing) as it's own topic so it can be linked to.

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 21, 2012, 11:30 AM

3. Always informative.

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 21, 2012, 12:12 PM

4. So helpful, seeing your comments. Recommending your post! n/t

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 22, 2012, 12:09 AM

7. You don't dispute the facts they do give. And you mangle the facts as they exist.

You move the goal posts to "the facts they're not giving," which is hilarious, to be sure. But that's not the worst part. Barankov had been granted asylum, he was a free man in Ecuador for TWO YEARS. Then Lukashenko visited Ecuador over trade deals, and Barankov was SUMMARILY ARRESTED. Coincidence? I think not.

So THAT is what CHANGED as the result of Lukashenko's visit. It was Lukashenko seeking the trade and other agreements and Ecuador used his desire for such agreements to extract these written guarantees about Barankov.


No, what changed is that Ecuador REVOKED Barankov's asylum and ARRESTED HIM.

Even if we do take your "assessment" at face value it's still damn hypocritical. If Assange winds up in Ecuador and then suddenly after a trade agreement with the US he is arrested and extradited, I think you won't be singing the same tune.

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Response to Peace Patriot (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 22, 2012, 07:21 AM

9. So Ecauador is banking Assange to use for a future trade deal?

interesting.

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Response to Robb (Original post)

Tue Aug 21, 2012, 05:11 PM

5. Kick! n/t

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Response to Robb (Original post)

Tue Aug 21, 2012, 11:36 PM

6. Great thorough research as always Peace Patriot.

I always enjoy reading what you post. I have another more obvious example of Western Media bias in relation to the Assange case to tie into this thread. This time it's an article from todays Telegraph UK in regards to the naming of the women bringing the allegations against Assange. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/9490463/Julian-Assange-Swedish-prosecutors-censure-sex-case-naming-diplomat.html Check this excerpt: Mr Murray, who was sacked by the Foreign Office in 2004, defended his comments in a blog yesterday, arguing her name was widespread on the internet and had been published in other countries.
The father-of-three, who left his wife of 20 years for a woman he met in a lap dancing club in Uzbekistan in 2003, also accused the BBC of hypocrisy.

What relevancy Mr. Murrays private life plays in this matter I have no idea. But I speculate that it is to create an impression in the readers mind that Mr. Murray is lecherous. An obvious example of a British newspaper (albeit one that obviously leans right) spreading propaganda.

These media tactics in regards to the framing of the Assange case are very obvious and ironic considering Wikileaks is essentially doing the job the press was supposed to do (challenging the powers that be and exposing corruption) these days.

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Response to Robb (Original post)

Wed Aug 22, 2012, 03:13 AM

8. Ecuador's dismissive media portrayal smacks of post-colonial arrogance

Ecuador's dismissive media portrayal smacks of post-colonial arrogance

The Assange case has sparked much comment about Ecuador and its president most of it deeply unenlightened

Posted by
Jonathan Glennie
Wednesday 22 August 2012 02.00 EDT guardian.co.uk

~snip~

On Monday, the UK-based Daily Mail published a piece describing Ecuador as "a world of fear under a Left-wing dictator who responds to dissent with an iron fist". This "dictator", the country's president Rafael Correa, has been elected twice with overwhelming majorities, most recently notching up 52% in 2009, more than 20% ahead of his nearest rival. The freedom and fairness of these elections have never been questioned by any country or relevant entity. His current approval ratings are hovering just under 60%.

Concerns about freedom of speech are justified, but should not be exaggerated. According to last year's press freedom index, published by Reporters Without Borders, press freedom in Ecuador has worsened significantly in the past decade and especially in the past two or three years under Correa. But although Ecuador finds itself in the bottom half of the table, it is only four places below Brazil, and well ahead of its Latin American neighbours Peru and Colombia, as well as India and Turkey. Oft-quoted analyses by organisations such as Human Rights Watch have been criticised for failing to discuss the whole picture.

Corruption is still a major political problem, but it is worth noting that last year Ecuador achieved its highest score on Transparency International's corruption perceptions index which, though imperfect, provides the best measure we have of a country's corruption since 1996. Moreover, since 2009 Ecuador has scored top marks on the World Bank's credit depth of information index, which measures rules affecting the quality of credit information to facilitate lending decisions. Yes, Ecuador is corrupt. But according to these measures at least, it appears to be getting ever so slightly better, not worse.

Claims about high rates of poverty and inflation since Correa came to power can be easily refuted by glancing at the World Bank figures. Consumer price inflation, which averaged 39% in the 90s and 26% in the first half of the 00s, has averaged 4.5% since Correa came to power. And poverty has never been lower, with $1.25-a-day poverty down from more than 20% in 2000 to less than 5% in 2010. Inequality is also at a historic low, with the Gini coefficient (which measures income inequality) dipping under 50 in 2009 for the first time since records began, a significant decline from rates nearer 60 a decade earlier. In 2010, Ecuador was described by the Overseas Development Institute as one of the top 20 performing countries in the world in terms of reaching the MDGs, particularly with regard to reducing extreme poverty and under-five mortality rates.

More:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/aug/22/ecuador-dismissive-portrayal-post-colonial-arrogance

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