Brazil judge blocks airing of documents in activist’s murder

A Brazilian judge has forbidden the country’s biggest TV channel from broadcasting the contents of investigative documents about the killing of black rights activist Marielle Franco.

The March 14 murder of Franco, a charismatic city council member in Rio de Janeiro, bore the hallmarks of a professional hit and triggered an international outcry.

The TV Globo channel gained access to extracts from investigative reports last week, and said it had aired reports on two subjects though “without showing elements that can pose a risk to witnesses and to the investigation” — in keeping with its editorial guidelines.

Rio’s prosecutor and the Civil Police, in charge of the Franco investigation, went to court to stop the channel publishing more.

“Diffusion of contents linked to the investigation is prejudicial, in so far as it exposes personal data of witnesses and harms the investigation,” Judge Gustavo Gomes Kalil in Rio said in a ruling published late Saturday on the O Globo newspaper website.

The newspaper is part of the same corporate group as TV Globo.

The channel said it would respect the order, but would lodge an appeal as it believed the ruling “seriously violated freedom of the press and the right of the population to information, especially on a case that has elicited great interest in Brazil and abroad.”

Brazil’s Association of Investigative Journalists (ABRAJI) condemned what it termed “censorship.”

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