Judge orders book seizure

New York, May 12, 2005 – The Committee to Protect Journalists protests the recent decision of a Brazilian district judge to seize all copies of a nonfiction book by journalist and author Fernando Morais.

On May 4, Judge Jeová Sardinha de Morais, of the 7th Civil District of Goiânia, the capital of the central state of Goiás, granted an injunction that ordered the withdrawal of all copies of Morais’s book “Na Toca dos Leões” (In the Lions’ Den) from circulation in Brazil, according to local news reports. The injunction was granted on behalf of federal parliamentary deputy Ronaldo Caiado.

Caiado has reportedly filed civil and criminal defamation complaints against Morais and a civil complaint against the Editora Planeta do Brasil publishing house, which has 20 days to withdraw the books from bookstores nationwide.

Editora Planeta do Brasil, which has printed around 50,000 copies of the book, has announced it will contest the injunction, according to local news reports.

Morais is currently outside the country and is expected in Brazil in late May.

Morais’s book, which was published in early April, tells the history of the advertising agency W/Brasil and contains interviews with its main business partners. The book quotes one business partner as saying that while running for president in 1989, Caiado told the partner that sterilizing women could solve overpopulation in Brazil’s Northeast. Caiado claims he never made that statement.

Judge Sardinha’s May 4 decision reinforced his earlier April 13 decision, which ordered the seizure of all copies of the book at the Editora Planeta do Brasil offices in the city of São Paulo. In addition, he banned the author and his publisher from making statements about the book to any media outlet and set a 5,000 reals (approximately U.S. $2,000) fine for any breach of this order.

“This dispute should be resolved in civil court,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “But censoring this book is outrageous.”