Brazilian journalists detained while covering protest

New York, June 13, 2013–At least three Brazilian journalists were detained by military police while covering a protest on Tuesday, with one still in custody, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Brazilian authorities to allow journalists to be able to work freely without fear of harassment.

“Journalists must be allowed to report freely on sensitive topics like the recent protests against fare hikes on public transportation,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “It is unacceptable for police to detain and harass reporters trying to do their jobs.”

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of São Paulo on Tuesday night to protest price increases on public transport, according to news reports. Local police clashed with protesters, using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them.

The journalists–Leandro Machado, a reporter for the national daily Folha de S.Paulo; Leandro Morais, a photographer for the news website Universo Online; and Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira, a reporter for the website Portal Aprendiz–were detained late Tuesday, according to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism, or ABRAJI.

ABRAJI reported that Machado and Morais were accused of “obstructing” police work and were released after an hour. Nogueira remained in custody, according to news reports. Police said he had vandalized a police car, according to O Estado de S. Paulo, but other news accounts reported that the journalist had been assaulted by police and arrested while covering the protest.

Nogueira’s mother told O Estado de S. Paulo that he was at the protest working as a journalist and had intervened when police were arresting two women. Nogueira’s lawyer has filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking Nogueira’s release from jail.

ABRAJI also reported that Fernando Mellis, a reporter with the R7 news website, had been shoved and beaten by military police while assisting a protester who was being harassed and assaulted.

  • For more data on Brazil, visit CPJ’s Brazil page here.