The director of the Brasilia bureau for the Brazilian magazine Época, Diego Escosteguy, announced that he received insult-filled and threatening messages through Facebook from an anonymous user on Saturday, Aug. 10.
"The threat, obviously, has to do with the PMDB [Brazilian Democratic Movement Party] bribe in Petrobras. It is also a constant digital hunt to anyone who works in 'old media'," Escosteguy wrote on Facebook page.
In a phone interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Escosteguy explained that he couldn't reveal the contents of the message as to not interrupt ongoing investigations, but assured that it meant to intimidate him. "On Saturday morning, Aug. 10, at 9:27 a.m., I logged onto Facebook and there was a short message sent from somone just called 'Facebook user' with insults and a threat that didn't explicitly say 'I will kill you' or 'I will hurt you,' but was along those lines. It was clear enough for me to be worried and take some precautionary measures," he said.
According to him, the threat was motivated by a report titled "Allegations against a PMDB operative in Petrobras," in which documents and recorded statements reveal that all contracts that passed by the board of Petrobras, the largest company in the country, provided bribes to PMDB, party deputies and even the political campaign of President Dilma Rousseff.
For Escosteguy, the current state of the country is more conducive for these types of threats to intensify.
"We are in one of the most violent countries in the world for journalists. The message I received is related to the hate for the traditional press. For all the necessary criticisms against large press outlets, now these criticisms go beyond what is acceptable and create an enviroment of animosity, like we saw during the July protests, with impediments of the work for the press at various occassions. This debate is very much present online. There is a large contingent that sees the mainstream press as one of the country's villians and uses hateful rhetoric, which opens the doors for threats like that one I got," he stated.
Brazil was classified by Reporters Without Borders as the fifth most dangerous country for journalists in 2012. Last year, five journalists were killed in relation to their jobs. In 2013 there have been three confirmed cases, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.
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.