On July 16, 2009, police detained freelance photographer Antônio Carlos Argemi while he was covering a protest outside the home of Rio Grande do Sul Governor Yeda Crusius in Porto Alegre, 834 miles (1,342 kilometers) southwest of Brasilia.
The governor is under investigation for her alleged involvement in the misappropriation of more than 44 million reais (US$24 million). On July 16, members of the Porte Alegre public school teachers union staged a protest outside the governor’s home demanding that she be impeached after the local press reported on her connection to the corruption scandal.
As the protest escalated, military police forced reporters into a closed-off area to prevent them from covering the demonstration, José María Rodrigues Nunes, the president of the Rio Grande do Sul journalists union, told CPJ. When Argemi tried to step out of the restricted area and take pictures, officers arrested him and took him to the 14th police precinct in Porto Alegre. According to Nunes, the photographer was released after he gave a statement to local police. Silvia Regina da Souza, the Rio Grande do Sul state delegate in charge of the investigation, told CPJ that, according to the police report, the photographer was detained for participating in the protest.
The Rio Grande do Sul journalists union presented a formal complaint to the human rights commission of the National Federation of Journalists and Federation of Journalists in Latin America and Caribbean, Nunes said. Da Souza told CPJ that she is also investigating allegations of police abuse.