Newspaper supplement alleging corruption confiscated

A group of unidentified men on September 27 confiscated a special supplement of one of Rio de Janeiro’s biggest tabloids, Extra, that reported on a corruption investigation into a candidate in municipal elections, the newspaper reported.

The paper reported that the men took a supplement for the São Gonçalo region east of Rio de Janeiro from a center in Niteroi that distributes local editions of Extra to municipalities east of the city before it could be folded into the rest of the newspaper.

The supplement reported details of an investigation into Aristeo Eduardo Teixeira da Silveira, a former city councilor and a candidate in municipal election scheduled for October 2, who goes by the name Eduardo Gordo, or “Fat Eduardo.” Extra’s São Goncalo edition featured a large picture of Teixeira on the cover with the headline, “Candidate is accused of fraud.”

The men left an unspecified amount of money in what they said was payment for the sections – which are not sold separately – in an “attempt to put a veneer of legality around their actions,” Octavio Guedes, Extra‘s chief of reporters, told the Committee to Protect Journalists by telephone.

“A group of 30 men were at Extra newspaper’s distribution points to seize the São Gonçalo supplement that featured a front page story on the Federal Public Ministry’s charges against…Eduardo Gordo,” the newspaper said in a statement. “He is accused of defrauding the health system of up to 35 million [reais, or $11 million], and is a candidate for city councilman.”

The report, which Extra published online, accused the former city councilman and three business partners of embezzling funds destined for the municipal health care system in 2005. The men set up fraudulent companies to provide health services but made off with the 57 million reais ($23.3 million) they were paid, the story reported.

Teixeira personally took 35 million reais (US $14.3 million), the newspaper alleged. The politician told the newspaper he had not been formally informed of the charges and so would not address them.

Candidates have tried to stop the distribution of newspapers or silence radio stations at least 34 times in this election cycle, according to a report issued September 28 by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalists (ABRAJI).

Candidates sought judicial orders to suspend or close radio stations on seven occasions, while 27 other appeals were launched to prevent or stop newspapers publishing stories, ABRAJI reported.

Abraji condemned Tuesday’s attack and called on authorities to fully investigate the incident.