The journalist André Caramante has been receiving threats from former São Paulo military police commander Adriano Lopes Lucinda Telhada and his supporters ever since Caramante wrote a column for the daily newspaper A Folha de São Paulo on 14 July criticising the hate-mongering and obsession with security on Telhada’s Facebook page.
Reporters Without Borders, which was contacted by Caramante’s family, calls for an investigation into the threats. Telhada is currently a candidate in next October’s municipal elections.
“Telhada should be held accountable for the comments about Caramante that he has posted on Facebook,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The messages posted by the former police commander do not just defame Caramante. They incite hatred against the journalist and expose him to physical danger. Such behaviour is contrary to the rule of law and gives the judicial system grounds for examining Telhada’s eligibility as a candidate.”
Commander of the São Paulo military police until November 2011, Telhada is running for a seat on the São Paulo municipal council as a representative of the centre-right Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB).
Basing his campaign on calls for a crackdown on the “no-goods” and “bastards,” he posted the photos of two black youths on his Facebook page on 22 June and, without offering any evidence, accused them of being responsible for a recent assault on a military police base. His post was shared more than a thousand times by other Facebook users.
Caramante has specialized in covering the São Paulo military police (known as “La Rota”) and has often criticized its human rights abuses. He has not stopped getting threats ever since his column was published on 14 July.
Telhada calls Caramante a “notorious defender of delinquents.” One of the comments that can be seen on his Facebook page says: “He who defends a bandit is a bandit! A bullet for these bastards!” In another message on Facebook, a military police officer called Paulo Sérgio Ivasava Guimarães voices his support for Telhada and says: “This Caramante is one more no-good. Keep an eye on him, Colonel!”
The affair is all the more outrageous for coinciding with a preventive censorship measure by the judicial system in the southeastern state of Espírito Santo against the online newspaper Século Diário, which has been forced to withdraw three reports and two editorials critical of a judicial official
“Why are publications censored when they do their job as independent watchdogs and yet online hate message are not subject to any sanction?” Reporters Without Borders asked.