A Brazilian judge censored articles in two respected and influential newspapers, Folha de Sao Paulo and O’Globo, which reported on an extortion attempt suffered by the First Lady Marcela Temer last year. Both newspapers anticipated they will be appealing the ruling.
An injunction granted by Judge Hilmar Castelo Branco Raposo Filho of the 21st Civil Court in Brasilia prevents Folha from publishing information on a hacker’s blackmail attempt she suffered last year.
The petition was signed by the attorney Gustavo do Vale Rocha, Chief Deputy Legal Officer of the Civil House, on behalf of Marcela. The request also mentions the newspaper “O Globo”, whose website also published a report on the subject shortly after Folha.
The text was published on Folha’s website at 6:45 pm on Friday (10). The lawsuit was filed at 5:47 pm, according to a court record in Brasilia. Folha was notified of the decision at 09:05 on Monday (13). The text was deleted from the website of the newspaper after the legal notification.
According to the judge, the grounds presented by the first lady’s defense are “relevant and supported by proper evidence”, the office says.
”I defend the request of an anticipation of the injunctive relief to determine that the defendants refrain from giving publicity to any of the data and information obtained from the author’s mobile phone, under penalty of a R$ 50,000 fine (US$ 16,000).” says the judge.
The hacker Silvonei de Jesus Souza was sentenced in October to 5 years and 10 months in prison for larceny and extortion. His sentence is being served in Tremembé (SP).
Souza used an audio captured from Marcela’s mobile phone that he had cloned to blackmail the first lady. There are also mentions to President Michel Temer’s name. All contents from Marcela Temer’s mobile phone and email accounts were stolen by the hacker.
Folha had access to information made public by the São Paulo Court of Justice. The processes are as follows: 0000057-20.2017.8.26.0520, 0036961-28.2016.8.26.0050, 0036960-43.2016.8.26.0050 and 0032415-27.2016.8.26.0050. Any lawyer or person registered on the court website can access the records.
The lawyer of the Civil House says that the motion to prevent the publication of information about the first lady “serves to avoid irreparable damage to the author, who, if her intimacy is unduly exposed by the media, that are again confusing information with the violation of a public person’s privacy ”.
He asks that, in case the data has already been published, that it be “immediately removed from the website and that any possible printed editions be collected”.
“Under penalty of a R$ 500,000 fine for every access on the website and edition sold,” says the request of the lawyer.
Grupo Folha’s legal director, Orlando Molina, considers that the decision violates the freedom of the press. “I see it as a brutal attempt to prevent freedom of information,” he says. “This sets censorship to the press medium.”