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Brazilian media company fined for accusing journalist of spying for the United States

By Isabela Fraga

The Brazilian media company Record, owner of the eponymous television broadcaster and the news website R7, was sentenced to pay almost $24,000 in moral damages to the Globo network host William Waack after republishing a blog post alleging Waack was an informant for the U.S. government, reported the magazine Veja.

The post, originally published by the blog Brasil que Vai on Oct. 27, claimed that "reporter William Waack, of the Globo television network, was named as an informant to the American government," according to "classified documents released to the public by WikiLeaks."

The judge responsible for the decision, Vitor Federico Kümpel, declared there was "no document from WikiLeaks naming the plaintiff as an informant for the USA, as a CIA agent or other offensive accusations directed against the journalist William Waack," reported the website Consultor Jurídico.

In the ruling, the judge added that "freedom of expression and the right to information are essential to the fruition of democracy but there cannot be frivolous or irresponsible blabbing." Record can still appeal the decision, according to the website UOL.

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.

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