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Brazilian journalist arrested in Rio while reporting on detention

Abraji (Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism) condemns the arrest of Vera Araujo, a reporter for O Globo newspaper in Rio de Janeiro. Last Sunday night (June 15, 2014), the journalist was arrested by military police sergeant Edmundo Faria while covering the jailing of an Argentinian supporter accused of urinating in the street.

The sergeant ordered Vera to turn off her equipment. Even after she showed her professional ID, she was arrested, charged "with contempt of authority". According to O Globo, the officer drove Vera around for about an hour and took the cellphone she was using to contact the newsroom. Before heading to the police station, the sergeant handcuffed her tightly enough to bruise her wrists and, according to Vera, verbally harrassed her.

She registered the case as an abuse of authority and had a forensic medical examination done at the Medical Legal Institute. Lieutenant colonel Cláudio Costa, military police PR, told O Globo that Internal Affairs will investigate the sergeant's misconduct. According to a police statement, he "will be administratively detained at Batalhao da Campanha."

Abraji considers Vera Araujo's arrest unjustified in every aspect, and a severe violation of freedom of expression. Verbal and physical assaults must be exemplarily punished by military police commanders, who say they consider the work of the press to be "fundamental to assure democracy".

A journalist's work equipment should not be seized under any circumstances. This attitude is typical in authoritarian contexts, in which revealing facts that the government doesn't want to be made public is often considered a crime.

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