By Maira Magro
The newspaper Novo Jornal reports that its journalists were not allowed to leave the offices of businessman Augusto Caldar Targino, ex director of the Rio Grande do Norte’s consumer protection agency, while he threatened and berated them. (Listen to a recording of the incident in Portuguese here.)
The team was preparing a story about land that a federal deputy attempted to buy with a check that was seized by the police. Journalist Rafael Duarte, photographer Ney Douglas, and their driver, Clodoaldo Régis, went to the estate where they were told by a neighbor that the property belonged to Targino’s brother, Novo Jornal explains.
They returned to their newsroom and were told that the former director had called their editor to ask why the journalists had trespassed on his property. The team went to Targino’s office and were allegedly forced into a room and berated by the businessman for 13 minutes: “I haven’t killed anyone yet, but the law here still gives me the right to kill. It is the Federal Constitution that guarantees me [the right].” The team denies trespassing.
The National Federation of Journalists and the Rio Grande do Norte Union of Professional Journalists condemned the incident. Journalists and sympathizers have also expressed their solidarity with the Novo Jornal team via Twitter.
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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.