New York, September 29, 2021 — Brazilian authorities should release sports blogger Paulo Cezar de Andrade Prado and stop using defamation laws to harass and imprison journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday morning, São Paulo state civil police officers arrested Prado, who covers sports and politics on his blog Blog do Paulinho, at his home, according to news reports, a video summarizing the case that Prado recorded before his arrest, and his lawyer, Daniel Casagrande, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app. Casagrande told CPJ that the police were acting on the open arrest order issued by the 26th Criminal Court of São Paulo state on February 23 to enforce a five-month prison sentence for Prado, in relation to a criminal defamation case that has been ongoing since 2016, as CPJ documented at the time.
“There is no possible justification, other than to intimidate and harass the press, for São Paulo police to suddenly carry out this gratuitous arrest warrant for Paulo Cezar de Andrade Prado, especially as COVID-19 continues to ravage Brazil’s prison system,” said CPJ Latin America and the Caribbean Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Instead of using their resources to go after journalists who pose no threat to anyone, Brazilian authorities should prioritize reforming the country’s outdated and dangerous criminal defamation laws.”
Casagrande told CPJ that Prado is currently being held at the 31st Civil Police station in São Paulo and has not yet been transferred to a prison facility. His legal team has filed a petition with Brazil’s Superior Court of Justice requesting that the arrest warrant be revoked, Casagrande said.
Prado has faced multiple previous defamation suits, and was imprisoned in 2015 and 2018 following convictions for criminal defamation, according to CPJ research.