An Ecuadoran court has ordered two journalists to pay President Rafael Correa $2 million in damages stemming from a book that detailed contracts his brother received from the government, a defense lawyer said Tuesday.
The lawyer, Ramiro Aguilar, said Juan Carlos Calderon and Christian Zurita were ordered to pay the president one million dollars each by a criminal court in the province of Pichincha for his "pain and suffering."
The two journalists wrote the book "El Gran Hermano" ("Big Brother"), which describes contracts the state awarded the president's brother, Fabricio Correa, with a total of $167 million.
Correa denies he knew of these deals ahead of time and said he moved to stop the contracts once he learned of them.
This is the second prominent case involving the president in Ecuador, which has passed new laws which critics say stifle freedom of the press.
Correa sued El Universo in March 2011 alleging "defamatory libel" over a column by former opinion page editor Emilio Palacio that accused the president of crimes against humanity.
A lower court judge ruled against the newspaper in July, handing down the $40 million judgment and prison sentences against the newspaper's publisher, Carlos Perez, deputy directors Cesar Perez and Nicolas Perez, and Palacio, who fled to Miami. An appeals court upheld the sentence in September. The case is pending in the Supreme Court.