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I am writing my thesis, and I am having trouble deciding on the tense to use when joining two paragraphs. For context:

...but after years of verbal attacks on journalists and new laws to regulate the press, Ecuador’s restrictions on freedom of expression soon became the subject of international criticism and, in the months running up to Julian Assange’s request for asylum, this situation reached new highs when Rafael Correa resorted to prosecuting his critics under Ecuador’s criminal defamation laws.

Of particular interest was a case initiated on 21 March 2011, when Rafael Correa filed a criminal libel suit against journalist Emilio Palacio and Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez, three directors of the newspaper El Universo...

I don't know if I should use "Of particular interest was..." or "Of particular interest is..."

I think "was" is appropriate because I am discussing what the subject of international criticism was (i.e. what was of interest to the international community back then), but I think my thesis supervisor will see it in the context of my current study. That makes me think maybe it should be "is", as in "of particular interest to THIS study".

Maybe I'm over-analysing it, but my supervisor is stickler for grammar.

Any advice?

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    Are you talking about something that's of particular interest now (at time of writing and/or being read), or that was of interest at the time you're writing about? That's all that matters - nothing to do with "correct grammar". – FumbleFingers May 27 '17 at 13:59
  • FYI, cases are filed or brought, not initiated. That's Spanish. Also, "criminal" libel suit? A libel suit is a libel suit. – Lambie May 27 '17 at 14:50
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    @Lambie Many jurisdictions classify some forms of libel as criminal libel--not merely civil torts but offenses subject to criminal prosecution by the state. – StoneyB May 27 '17 at 21:35
  • The past tense in Paragraph 2 fits well with the past tense of Paragraph 1. But "new highs" is weird, and doesn't have an easy fix. – aparente001 May 29 '17 at 4:05
  • Thank you for the comments and advice! FYI @Lambie there is a difference between civil libel suits and criminal defamation suits. article19.org/pages/en/criminal-defamation.html – dlm Jun 4 '17 at 21:55
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When unclear, add words to clarify:

Of particular interest to the international community was a case initiated on 21 March 2011, when Rafael Correa filed a criminal libel suit against journalist Emilio Palacio and Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez, three directors of the newspaper El Universo...

per your own clarification. Equally:

Of particular interest to this study is a case initiated on 21 March 2011, when Rafael Correa filed a criminal libel suit against journalist Emilio Palacio and Carlos, César and Nicolás Pérez, three directors of the newspaper El Universo...

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I agree with Josh's answer and FumbleFinger's comment: what matters is what you mean.

Part of the problem is that the phrase "of particular interest" is vague. "Of interest" to whom and in "what regard" are both left unspecified. Now those may be clarified by the sentences following, in which case the phrase is fine, and the tense should fit the sense of what follows. The whole problem, however, can be avoided by choosing words with less broad meaning.

"Particularly criticized was the case ..." ties your second paragraph back to the first. "Particulary relevant to X is the case ..." indicates a change from narrative history to historical analysis. Of course you may want to express both ideas. "The case ... was particularly criticized at the time and remains particularly relevant to X" expresses both thoughts.

English is very rich lexically. Take advantage of that wealth.

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