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Striking police officers set fire to coffins to protest plans to cut police pensions in Brasilia, April 18, 2017. (AP/Eraldo Peres)

Two photographers arrested for photographing Brazil protest

April 24, 2017 4:38 PM ET

Police on April 17, 2017, arrested two Brazilian photographers who were taking photographs of a barricade of burning tires in the Jardins neighborhood of São Paulo and accused them of starting the fire, according to one of the photographers and the police report, which CPJ has reviewed.

Two police officers stopped André Lucas de Almeida and Gustavo Ferreira de Oliveira, members of the C.H.O.C. Documental collective, as they finished photographing a protest organised by the Free Pass Movement (MPL, by its Portuguese acronym), Almeida told CPJ by telephone. The officers ordered them to put their hands on their heads, he said.

"We were stopped, and they said that we started the fire and that they had [security camera footage] to prove it," Almeida said. "They accused us of lacking ethics and shouted at us. They told us to bow our heads when we spoke to them."

Police took the two men to a nearby barracks, where officers questioned them and took their pictures. Almeida said police made him take off his shirt so they could photograph a tattoo on his chest. They were then transported to the 15th Precinct station where, among other things, they were asked if they had any links to political parties, Almeida added.

Both men could face up to six years in prison for the alleged crime, according to a report published online by Carta Capital magazine.

A police statement reviewed by CPJ confirmed the arrests and said the two men were detained after "a witness reported that they participated in the act in which the tires were burned to block the road."

The statement said the photographers were questioned and released and that police were investigating the incident.

CPJ could not contact Oliveira.

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