Judge bans magazine to protect governor

A court in Brazil is censoring the magazine IstoÉ and ordering it to withdraw its weekly publication from the market for having reported on a case of corruption in the public administration.

Judge Maria Marleide Maciel Queiroz of Fortaleza in Ceará state Monday ordered IstoÉ, one of the country’s most prestigious magazines, to pull this week’s issue and a report on its Web site. The court order responds to a lawsuit alleging libel, defamation and moral harm filed by Ceará State Gov. Cid Gomes, who claimed to be offended by a report in which he was linked to corrupt activities by Brazilian oil company Petrobras.

The Inter American Press Association condemned the court action. The chairman of the association’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, protested “the frequency with which  Brazilian judges protect public officials in detriment to the news media and especially against the constitutional guarantee allowing all Brazilians to enjoy their right to freely receive and disseminate information.”

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay weekly, Búsqueda, said, “Public officials are subject to greater scrutiny by the people.”

“It is for the news media to exercise their watchdog role and for judges to guarantee that democratic value,” he said.

Gomes sued IstoÉ after journalists with that magazine sent him an e-mail asking for his reaction to statements in court made by the former head of Petrobas, Paulo Roberto Costa, who linked him to a list of authorities who allegedly participated in influence-peddling and bribery. Costa’s disclosure comes on the heels of a confession which enables him to obtain a reduced sentence.

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