Former Brazilian governor wins suit against journalist and publisher for unflattering article

A state judge in Brazil's Federal District (DF) sentenced Editora Abril – the company that publishes Veja magazine – and journalist Diego Escosteguy to pay $64,000 in damages to ex DF Governor Joaquim Roriz, reports Consultor Jurídico. The court ruled that Veja magazine used offensive language in a story that discussed the politician.

According to the judge, the magazine overstepped the bounds of freedom of expression and the right to information. “Safeguarding personal rights imposes restrictions on the practice of freely informing,” she said.

The story in dispute referred to a corruption scandal that involved high officials in the DF government, businesses with government contracts, and federal deputies from the disctrict. In the piece, Escosteguy compares Roriz and his administration to Vito Corleone, the fictional mafioso from The Godfather. “I stand by what I wrote. The text reflects that facts and what I think about a mafia that enters the government, leaves the government, and continues running DF,” the journalist said on his Twitter.

The defendants argued that the article was simply a political retrospective on the ex governor and the scandal, which is being investigated by the Federal Police. The decision can still be appealed to a higher court.

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.