Prosecutors charge ex-officials with kidnapping Brazilian journalists and environmentalists

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  • August 6, 2010

By Maira Magro

The Prosecutor’s Office in Mato Grosso state has charged politicians and businessmen from the city of Juína with kidnapping, false imprisonment, and illegal restraint, after allegedly sequestering several reporters and activists who were trying to film a documentary on deforestation and the Enawene Nawe indigenous peoples, Folha de S. Paulo and Greenpeace report. The attackers feared they would help the tribe in land disputes with local farmers.

Nine people, including a Brazilian photographer, two French reporters, and members of Greenpeace and the Native Amazon Operation (OPAN) were at a hotel in Juína in August of 2007. For two days, approximately 100 famers, businessmen, and city officials surrounded the hotel, prevented them from visiting the Enawene Nawe, and demanded they leave the city. According to Gazeta Digital, the film group faced verbal and physical attacks. After their confinement, they were taken to the city council to explain themselves and were then escorted to the airport.

Among those charged are the former mayor, former city council president, and former president of the city’s security council, Diário de Cuiabá explains. Their excuses border on the absurd. One said the environmentalists were “slackers” who needed to “present themselves to the city and explain what they came to do.” Another asked: “Does the international press have the right to come here, do what it pleases without our knowledge, and take information to who knows where?”

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.