The International Federation of Journalists today asked the Brazilian government to reconsider its threat to cancel the visa of an American journalist who wrote a controversial report suggesting that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has a drink problem.
The report by Larry Rohter, a veteran correspondent who is married to a Brazilian woman, in the New York Times has cause controversy, but the IFJ says that the problem should be resolved through professional dialogue, not expulsion from the country.
“That would be harsh and would amount to petulant over-reaction,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “This is an issue which concerns the honour of the President and can properly be dealt with through professional means.”
An official reply to the report rather than engaging in punitive action against the reporter would be appropriate says the IFJ.
The IFJ noted that President Lula is considering legal action against the New York Times and has asked its affiliate in Brazil, FENAJ, the Brazilian Federation of Journalists to investigate the case.
“There is a great deal of sympathy and support for the engaging democratric process that President Lula has embarked upon,” said White. “It would be a great pity if by over-reacting to this incident there was a suggestion of censorship and persecution by a democratic government of a working journalist.”
The IFJ says if there is a case of unethical conduct against the reporter it should be tested in a proper professional manner.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 100 countries