Brazilian editor jailed for falsifying documents, intimidating witnesses

A court in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais has ordered the preventive detention of journalist Marco Aurelio Flores Carone at the request of the state’s district attorney. The editor of website Novojornal was jailed after he was accused of attacking several witnesses in criminal trials in which he is a defendant, newspaper Estado de Minas reported.

The District Attorney’s Office alleges that Carone created a gang of hustlers led by lobbyist Nilton Monteiro, the alleged mastermind behind the Furnas List, a document considered to be false that lists 155 politicians and allies of Brazil’s Social Democratic Party (PSDB) who have allegedly received state money for their election campaigns. He is also accused of participating in an attempt on the life of prosecutor Andre Luiz de Pinho.

The district attorney argues in his complaint that Novojournal is used to intimidate witnesses, distribute false documents fabricated by the gang and publicize materials that praise the gang’s bosses. In an interview the prosecutor stated that Carone’s website portrayed ten of the eleven witnesses as criminals.

The court agreed that Carone’s objective is to “defame, slander, and intimidate” political opponents, and authorized his detention in order to prevent the publication of new information, according to an article by Rede Brasil Atual.

Carone has denied the accusations, claiming that he is the victim of political persecution. “I am a political prisoner. They have jailed me for political reasons. Anybody who knows me knows I have 30 years of professional experience. I’m calm and I am going to prove (the accusations) are baseless. I met with the prosecutor today and when he came to see me, he verbally insulted me. But my history will protect me,” he told news website R7.

Carone is the son of Belo Horizonte’s former mayor, Jorge Carone, and is well known for his Internet tirades against the allies of Senator Aecio Neves of the PSDB. As a result of Carone’s published revelations, the former mayor of Minas Gerais’s capital, Marcio Lacerdo (from Brazil’s Socialist Party) was sentenced to prison for moral damages. At the orders of Justice Minister Jarbas Soares, during the 2010 electoral cycle Novojornal was forced off air, reported newspaper Jornal Tudo BH.

In an article bearing the title, “Aecio Neves wants Novojornal ‘Judicially Censored’,” Carone’s publication repeated that since it first appeared in 2006, “the political bloc led by Aecio Neves has been upset by Novojornal’s editorial independence and has tried to close the news site down.”

This post was translated by human rights investigator and journalist Patrick Timmons, editor of the mexicanjournalismtranslationproject.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @patricktimmons

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.