Political activists attack journalist in Porto Alegre

OCTOBER 26, 2008

Graciliano Rocha, Folha de S.Paulo

Supporters of local mayor José Fogaçaat, who won reelection on October 26, attacked Rocha, correspondent for the national daily Folha de S.Paulo in the southern city of Porto Alegre, in retaliation for his negative coverage of Fogaçaat’s government and his campaign, according to CPJ sources.

At around 8 p.m., as Rocha was waiting for a press conference outside the Fogaçaat’s campaign headquarters, he was approached by an unidentified man, the journalist told CPJ. After seeing Rocha’s press pass marked with the Folha de S.Paulo logo, the man told the reporter that he did not do good work and that he was not welcome at the rally. According to Rocha, after the altercation, a group of unidentified individuals came up to him, punched him on the face, pushed him to the floor, and kicked him repeatedly.

Rocha believes the aggression was motivated by a story he wrote in September on an investigation into the purchase of two luxury houses by Fogaçaat’s campaign manager, Luiz Fernando Záchia. The day after the article was published, the campaign manager resigned. On October 25, Rocha published another story detailing the use of government-issued bonuses for impoverished families. Following the publication of the article, members of the opposition sued Fogaçaat, accusing him of allegedly buying votes.

Rocha filed a complaint with local police immediately after the attack.

Clóvis Magalhães, Fogaçaat’s new campaign manager, told CPJ that campaign officials helped the journalist after the attack. According to Rocha, campaign members called him the following day to apologize.