Edition of Brazilian daily bought by force

SEPTEMBER 29, 2008


A group of armed men forcefully bought more than 30,000 copies of the September 29 issue of the Rio de Janeiro-based daily Extra in various parts of the city’s metropolitan area, said reports in the local press. According to a story on Extra’s Web site, the assailants were attempting to silence an article about local elections.
The group of armed men arrived at Extra’s offices in downtown Rio de Janeiro at 2 a.m. on September 28. The assailants told the press workers that they wanted to buy the next day’s entire edition, but the workers refused, according to Extra. A man claiming to be linked to a local politician said he was able to buy 900 copies of the paper from the printing press, the local press reported. However, the man said he did not threaten anyone.

The armed individuals then traveled to Belford Roxo, 19 miles (32 kilometers) from Rio de Janeiro, and bought 30,000 copies from a local distributor, according to local news reports. Later, Extra reported, they went to newsstands in the neighboring city of São João do Meriti, and threatened vendors with weapons to convince them to sell all remaining copies of the daily, the local press said.

In all, the assailants bought about 10 percent of Extra’s September 29 edition, which contained a story on 23 legislators who were running for mayor in different cities around Rio de Janeiro. According to Extra, the candidates were being paid without partaking in the state legislature. Three candidates, Alessandro Calazans, a mayoral candidate in Nilopolis; Marcelo Simão, a mayoral candidate in São João de Meriti; and Rodrigo Neves, a mayoral candidate in Niteroi, were specifically mentioned. Calazans and Simao publicly denied having participated, while Neves did not make a public statement. The paper said it was not sure who was behind the attack.

A regional electoral court ordered state military police to accompany Extra distributors the following day to ensure that the paper’s distribution was not disturbed, according to a statement from the court.