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      Surveillance equipment used for law enforcement purposes: Minister Today Ecuador’s Minister of the Interior José Serrano responded to articles in national and international outlets alleging that Ecuador uses mass surveilance against its citizens. In an article yesterday, Rosie Gray of Buzzfeed wrote that Ecuador’s intelligence agency “appears to have sought in recent months to obtain new equipment for a large-scale surveillance,” which Gray considers “resemble the National Security Agency practices revealed by Edward Snowden, who is reportedly seeking asylum in the left-leaning Latin American republic.” Gray did not include a comment from Ecuador in her initial article, writing only that “Ecuadorian officials did not respond to a inquiry through their embassy in Washington.” At the press conference, communication secretary Fernando Alvarado introduces Serrano, saying: “National and international media outlets have aligned with the international slander, trying to without any proof compare the espionage denounced by Snowden with alleged activity of wiretapping of Ecuadorians, and thus position this alleged situation as an Ecuadorian hypocrisy. Faced with this infamy, Ecuador will respond.” Serrano’s response to the allegations is reproduced in full below: “Good morning. The document that has been circulated about the purchase of equipment for surveillance is a crass montage, without a signature of responsibility. The government and other state institutions have publicly expressed the need to supply ourselves with intelligence equipment for the purpose of law enforcement-related collection of intellingence, to combat kidnappings, drug traficking, and organized crime in general. Every acquisition of equipment for security- every acquisition of equipment for security- is covered by Art. 20 of the UN Convention on the combat of international organized crime, and by the Art. 155 of Ecuador’s penal code. And to make abundantly clear the transparency and importance with which we consider human rights, the national judicial police council approved a “Regulation for the implementation and operation of a tecnical and electronic surveillance system”, which was published in the Official Register #678 in April 2012. The regulation establishes as an absolute requirement that a court order be issued, solicited not by the government but in each case by the District Attorney, before any tecnical or electronic surveillance is carried out, with the exclusive purpose – the exclusive purpose – of fighting criminal violence. “It is worth mentioning that in Ecuador we are not properly equipped to fight organized crime, and we frequently have to go to our allies to get logistical support. The use of these tools is in defense of citizens, and not to serve any political interests. In Ecuador, there is no telephone surveillance for political ends: only telephone surveillance in criminal investigations. The legal and legitimate use of this equipment has allowed to resolve, among other things, 100 percent of the kidnapping cases. “The national government has absolutely nothing to hide. So, we invite the national and international press which has lent itself to this nonsense, to demonstrate even one case in which a national or foreign citizen has has their telephone spied on by our government. If they can not do so in 24 hours, they will be recognized simply as liars. In Ecuador human rights are completely respected, and authorities act in service of the Constitution and international treaties our country has signed. We, at least, can guarantee without reserve that no citizen has been or ever will be spied on for political reasons.”

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