Information hero

José Belo

During the Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste in the 1990s, José Belo learned to cope with anything. He was handcuffed, hung by his feet, burned and put in prison for three years. Finally in 2008, the country’s legal system, which had been independent for only a short time, threatened him with seven years’ imprisonment for accusing the minister of justice of corruption. Today the founder of the uncompromising weekly Tempo Semanal and president of the Timor-Leste Press Union is waging a new battle -- against a new media law being cooked up by the Dili government and parliament. He believes the legislation will give too much power to a proposed Press Council to be appointed by the government. He says he is prepared to go to prison again to prevent its passage into law.