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"O Povo" newspaper subject to temporary injunction

(ABRAJI/IFEX) - A 19 March 2009 judicial decision imposed a temporary injunction on the newspaper "O Povo", in Ceará state, prohibiting it from publishing an article. The newspaper also faces a daily fine of 10,000 BRL (approx. US$ 4,400). The decision signed by State Judge Benedito Helder Afonso Ibiapina is still in effect and includes other radio, television and Internet media outlets belonging to O Povo communication group.

The article in question deals with information about a federal police investigation into an entrepreneur's financial operations. The lawsuit against the paper was launched by the entrepreneur's attorneys, who argued that the information should remain secret.

The information that the newspaper is being prevented from reporting on is available on the Federal Department of Justice website. The details of the case were kept secret only during the police investigation.

The entrepreneur's attorneys further tried to censor the information by bringing the matter to the Federal Department of Justice. Federal judge Ricardo Ribeiro Campos did not accept the request, however the decision of State Judge Ibiapina is still valid.

"O Povo" newspaper filed an appeal on 23 March, in order to dissolve the temporary injunction.

"I hope this situation can be reversed. The newspaper did not do anything illegal. It is a public lawsuit, it is not a secret. We just did our job. We checked and reported relevant news", said the author of the prohibited article, Cláudio Ribeiro, to ABRAJI. ABRAJI deeply regrets the state judge's decision. The imposed censure violates the constitutional principle of press freedom. ABRAJI calls for the upholding of this principle as stipulated by the Brazilian Constitution.

The Newspapers National Association (ANJ), via its Freedom of Speech Committee, published a note condemning the prior censorship the paper is facing. According to ANJ, "the act of forbidding (the publication of) news, and facts legitimately obtained, and this judicial decision represent an unacceptable prior censorship, which clearly violates the freedom of speech concept guaranteed by the Constitution."

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