By Isabela Fraga
The Brazilian National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ in Portuguese) filed a complaint with the Public Ministry in Sergipe on Feb. 8, regarding its criminal proceedings against journalist José Cristian Góes, which began at the end of January because of a fictional post on his blog for the Infonet website.
Góes already was facing two lawsuits, one criminal and another civil, for defamation, filed by Edson Ulisses, a state court judge, reported the magazine Fórum. Góes' article, "I, colonel," is a work of fiction, written in first person and does not mention any names.
According to the newspaper Brasil de Fato, the journalist offended the judge's honor by calling him a "roughneck" and his wife "ugly." In an interview with Fórum, the judge said he believed Góes wrote the article as if he were the state's governor, Marcelo Déda, whose sister is Ulisses' wife.
The prosecutor proposed that the journalist pay the equivalent of three minium wages or three months community service, which Góes refused, according to the website SE Notícias. "Under no circumstances do I accept that I committed a crime when I wrote a fictional story that mentions a colonel that doesn't exist," the journalist said. After the refusal, the prosecutor filed criminal charges against Góes.
FENAJ President Celso Schröder said that Góes' case reflects the increasingly common practice of intimidating journalists in Brazil. "Unfortunately, in some pockets of power attempts to inhibit and harm journalists persist," he said. Dozens of civil society groups have joined together to release a public statement in solidarity with Góes, reported the Sergipe Journalists' Union website.
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.