Brazilian journalist threatened via Facebook after publishing complaint against former police commander

By Isabela Fraga

Brazilian reporter André Caramante, from the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, said that he received threats through Facebook after publishing an article with complaints against a former commander of the Tobias de Aguir Ostensible Rounds (ROTA in Portuguese), a branch of the Brazilian Military Police from the state of São Paulo, reported the newspaper Brasil de Fato.

In his story "Former head of ROTA turns political and preaches violence on Facebook," the journalist wrote that the former ROTA chief, Paulo Adriano Lopes Lucinda Telhada, used his Facebook page to provoke violence in alleged confrontations with civilians, which he called "bums." In one of the publications about Telhada's page (Telhada is a current candidate for São Paulo's city council) there is a sentence that reads: "There are people who still want to defend that race of bastards [...] and some 'organizations' want to defend them as victims of police injustice."

After the story was published on July 14, the journalist said that the colonel's supporters made threatening comments, such as: "That's it Telhada, we will fight those bums,” and “that Caramante is also a bum, Colonel, be on the watch out for him." The Professional Journalists Union of the state of São Paulo released a statement on Tuesday, July 17, in which it condemned the threats against the journalist and said it sent documents to several state government entities requesting attention to the case.

The organization Reporters Without Borders also released a statement in which it said that the journalist's family asked for Brazilian authorities to investigate the threats. "The messages posted by the former police commander not only discredit Caramante, they also provoke hatred against the journalist and put him in physical danger," Reporters Without Borders said.

The messages about the journalist on the former police commander's Facebook page seemingly have since been deleted.

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.