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Federal District Judge Suspends Decision that Censored Folha

02/16/2017 - 10h51



On Thursday (15), Judge Arnoldo Camanho de Assis, of the State Court of Appeals of Brazil's Federal District, accepted Folha's appeal and suspended the effects of a preliminary injunction that forbade the newspaper from publishing information on the case of the hacker who blackmailed the country's first lady, Marcela Temer.

The preliminary injunction had been issued on Friday (10), by Judge Hilmar Raposo Filho, of the 21st Civil Court of Brasília, at the request of the deputy head for Judicial Affairs of the Presidency of the Republic, Gustavo do Vale Rocha, on behalf of the first lady.

Rocha claimed that Marcela Temer's privacy was violated.

On Folha's website, the text on the blackmail suffered by Marcela was published on Friday and was later taken off the page after a notification received on Monday (13).

In his decision, Judge Assis says that the preliminary injunction against Folha "is clearly unconstitutional, as there is no violation of freedom, but in fact, a true pillar of the Democratic State under the Rule of Law."

"Therefore, it is impossible to agree with the possibility of a state agency - the Judicial branch, for example - establish, beforehand, what can and what cannot be published by the press."

"There is no sign, in the claims of the appeal, that the journalistic activity of the appellant petitioner [Folha] is based on an irresponsible or abusive editorial line, with the potential to violate someone's intimacy, especially in the given case of the complainant-respondent party or her husband, his Excellency, the President of the Republic," wrote Assis.

The ground of action for the censorship will be judged by a collegiate of the State Court of Appeals of the Federal District. With Assis's decision, the article returned to Folha's website.

Folha had access to information disclosed by the State Court of Appeals of São Paulo. In October, hacker Silvonei José de Jesus Souza was sentenced to five years and ten months in jail for larceny by fraud and extortion.

He is serving his sentence in the city of Tremembé, in São Paulo state.

Souza cloned a mobile phone belonging to Marcela Temer and used a WhatsApp audio recording to blackmail her. Souza said that the recording could compromise Michel Temer, who was Vice President of Brazil at the time.

All the content of the mobile and the email accounts used by the first lady were stolen by the hacker.

In the request for preliminary injunction, the lawyer of the Presidential Chief of Staff said that the action aimed to prevent further information on the first lady from being published, and also that "it serves to avoid irreparable losses to the first lady, if her intimacy is exposed unduly by media vehicles, which are, once again, taking information for the violation of privacy of a public person."

Folha's appeal claimed that the decision made by Judge Raposo Filho "is predominantly unacceptable censorship."

Folha "only reproduced the true facts of evident public interest in regular practice of the press," said Folha's lawyer, Tais Gasparian.

"The decision that forbids the disclosure of information represents censorship and is against the principles of freedom of the press and information, ensured by the Federal Constitution," says the appeal.


Judge Assis's decision is final and an appeal cannot be filed.

The preliminary injunction granted by Assis will be judged by a collegiate of three associate justices. It will be possible to appeal that decisison.

On Tuesday (14), President Michel Temer published an official statement in which he reinforces his permanent, unwavering commitment to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press.

"His actions and votes in the Constituent Assembly of 1988 show and confirm his commitment. Therefore, the president has always been in accordance with the actions of entities that represent the Brazilian press," said President Temer's statement.

The decision made on Wednesday does not apply to "O Globo" newspaper, which published an article with content similar to that of Folha.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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