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Brazilian journalist flees home after warnings of attacks by police

(Abraji/IFEX) - 18 December 2012 - Investigative reporter and Abraji director Mauri König was threatened on Monday 17 December 2012. Different people called Gazeta do Povo, the newspaper where he works, threatening reporters and warning them about attacks being planned against them. Mr. König was directly named: his home was to be targeted by policemen using machine guns.

A colleague from RPC TV ( a station belonging to the same media group as Gazeta do Povo) answered one of the calls. A man identified as a police officer said he had heard his fellow officers talk about a group of five policemen who came from Rio de Janeiro especially to attack Mr. König's home. According to this man, a particular story that was being written by the journalist was the motivation for the planned attack.

In May, Mr. König wrote a series of stories reporting police corruption in Paraná, a state in southern Brazil. Among other things, the newspaper Gazeta do Povo published a photograph of a police car outside a house of prostitution. By this time, Mr. König was already the victim of aggressive comments on the newspaper's website. He was called "Police enemy number 1".

On 17 December, the newspaper published another story on policemen: according to the text, some of the investigated officers were about to be promoted.

Mr. König and his family left their home in Curitiba, the capital of Paraná state. They are now at an unknown address, accompanied by private security hired by the newspaper.

The Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) deplores and condemns these threats against Mauri König. He is the latest victim of a wave of violence against journalists in Brazil. In 2012, the Committee to Protect Journalists confirmed that four journalists were killed in Brazil because of their jobs. In September, André Caramante, who covers police issues for Folha de S.Paulo (one of Brazil biggest newspapers), had to leave the country because he was also a victim of threats.

Abraji urges Brazilian authorities to investigate this case and find out who is responsible for the threats against Mr. König. When someone tries to silence a reporter, it is a direct attack on society's right to know.

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