UNITED NATIONS, June 25 (Reuters) - Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Thursday denied published allegations his government has ties to Colombian leftist rebels, saying he will sue The Wall Street Journal for printing the story.
In a column published on June 22, Mary Anastasia O’Grady said she obtained fresh evidence taken from the seized computer of a slain rebel commander, Raul Reyes, that links Correa’s leftist government to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
“We will sue this newspaper because we are sick of their lies,” Correa told reporters after addressing the U.N. General Assembly’s Conference on the world financial crisis.
“We demand the Wall Street Journal provide proof,” he said, reiterating that he does not have any connections with the FARC.
Reyes was killed in Ecuador in 2008 when the Colombian military raided a FARC camp hidden across the border, sparking a diplomatic crisis. Ecuador complains Colombia fails to stop rebels spilling over the frontier, but Colombia counters Quito turns a blind eye to rebels in its territory.
The legal threat is typical of Correa’s combative style. He has battled with foreign investors over oil contracts and a debt default and earlier this year expelled two U.S. diplomats he accused of meddling in Ecuador’s domestic affairs.
The Wall Street Journal article alleged that Reyes had correspondence and met with Ecuadorean officials and said material from the computer gave strong evidence that Correa was actively supporting the FARC guerrillas.
U.S. and Colombian officials have said before that computer files showed Ecuador and another leftist neighbor, Venezuela, had supported the FARC. Ecuador’s government has said any contact officials had with the rebels was in an effort to free hostages held by the Marxist rebel group.
Correa’s threat to the Wall Street Journal is the latest clash the president has had with the media.
The government is threatening to close an Ecuadorean television station critical of Correa’s policies, which have boosted government control over key sectors of the economy.
Correa says his government is not attacking press freedoms, but fighting powerful media groups that for years have gone unregulated and conspire against his crusade to help the poor.
Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp. NWSA.O. A company spokesman declined to comment when informed of Correa's threat. (Editing by Patrick Markey and Frances Kerry)
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