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Attack on blogger symptom of high level of violence against media

A blogger known for his scathing reporting on government officials and police corruption survived a shooting last week, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). It is just one of many acts of criminal violence targeting Brazilian media, say RSF and the Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI).

Ricardo Gama was shot in the head, neck and chest on 23 March in Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana by an unidentified gunman in a car. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital by local residents and is in stable condition after surgery, but needs a machine to help him breathe, reports CPJ.

According to RSF, Gama's blog often took sides in politics, stating his open opposition to Rio governor Sérgio Cabral and the city's mayor, Eduardo Paes. He recently claimed that a "businessman" was involved in cocaine trafficking in Rocinha, the city's biggest favela.

"The investigation must take account of this recent claim," RSF said. "Covering organised crime exposes Brazilian journalists to serious threats. The continuing and often controversial attempts to restore law and order in the favelas before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics will be covered by the media and the risks will be high for them and their staff."

Brazil made great progress in its free expression record during President Inácio Lula da Silva's two terms, says RSF, such as the repeal of a 1967 media law inherited from the military regime, a general improvement in access to public information and results in some investigations into murders of journalists.

But the media are exposed to a high level of criminal violence across the country, say RSF and ABRAJI. According to IFEX alerts in recent months, drug traffickers fired shots at a TV Globo helicopter in Rio. As well, the home of the owner of a local daily in the southern state of Paraná was targeted in a bomb attack. A TV station news crew in Indaial, southern Brazil, was assaulted and threatened by local businessmen.

Local officials are also known to harass journalists and bloggers through the courts, says RSF. For instance, in December, "Folha de São Paulo", the largest daily paper in Brazil, filed for "moral damages" against the independent, satirical blog Falha de São Paulo, denouncing the similarity between the names and logos.

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    According to police reports, Ricardo Gama was shot in the head, neck, and chest by an unidentified gunman.

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