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Governor's lawsuit against Brazilian magazine ends in order to withdraw publication

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) condemns a court order in Brazil censoring the magazine IstoÉ, ordering it to withdraw its weekly publication from the market for having reported on a case of corruption in the public administration.

Judge Maria Marleide Maciel Queiroz of Fortaleza in Ceará state on Monday (September 15) ordered IstoÉ, one of the country's most prestigious magazines, to pull this week's issue and a report on its Web site. The court order responds to a lawsuit alleging libel, defamation and moral harm filed by Ceará State Governor Cid Gomes, who claimed to be offended by a report in which he was linked to corrupt activities by Brazilian oil company Petrobras.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, protested "the frequency with which Brazilian judges protect public officials to the detriment of news media, and especially against the constitutional guarantee allowing all Brazilians to enjoy their right to freely receive and disseminate information".

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, said "Public officials are subject to greater scrutiny by the people," citing Article 11 of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression. He emphasized "it is for the news media to exercise their watchdog role and for judges to guarantee that democratic value".

Governor Gomes sued IstoÉ after journalists with that magazine sent him an e-mail asking for his reaction to statements in court made by the former head of Petrobas, Paulo Roberto Costa, who linked him to a list of authorities who allegedly participated in influence-peddling and bribery. Costa's disclosure comes on the heels of a confession which enables him to obtain a reduced sentence.

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