A television anchor who criticized a Brazilian governor on air is facing a lawsuit and judicial censorship, reports the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.
Governor Silval Barbosa filed a lawsuit against television anchor Maksuês Leite of TV Cuiabá and claims that he was offended during a recent live broadcast. Barbosa is asking for more than $20,500 in damages, and the court has ordered Leite to pay about $2,800 each time he criticizes the governor and does not complying with the injunction.
TV Cuiabá expressed their disappointment in an editorial and compared the judicial response to Barbosa’s lawsuit to the Brazilian military government that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. The television station said it would appeal the injunction.
Brazil fell 41 places in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2011/2012 to 99th out of 179 ranked countries. The decline results from the high level of violence in the country, which has resulted in the deaths of three journalists and bloggers.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, politicized judicial rulings have been hindering coverage of politics in Brazil for years. A censorship order against the daily O Estado de S. Paulo remained in place more than two years after it was first imposed and prohibited the paper from reporting on a corruption inquiry that involved the family of the current Senate President José Sarney.
Other recent cases of judicial censorship in Brazil, as reported by the Knight Center are:
* Brazilian blogger Carlos Santos faced a three-month prison sentence and more than $3,600 in fines. Santos is an independent journalist and blogger in Mossoró, Brazil. He was punished for posts he published on his blog about the mayor of his city. Although his jail time was eventually suspended, Santos is facing 27 other lawsuits and nine arrest orders for posts about other politicians and local officials.
* The editor of _Jornal Pessoal_, who has been targeted with nearly 30 lawsuits for his coverage of environmental issues and raw material trafficking in the Amazon, was threatened with arrest and a fine of $120,000 if he published stories about a local fraud investigation.
* Another blogger and independent journalist Emilio Neto Ceará was forced to pay more than $9,500 to his school director after an anonymous commenter posted a statement on his blog that offended the school official.