A reporter and a photographer from Forests & Finance member Repórter Brasil, were surprised by two armed police officers, when they went to the headquarters of the Brazil Iron company, in the interior of the state of Bahia, in Brazil.
A team from Repórter Brasil was waiting for an answer to a request for an interview at the headquarters of the British mining company Brazil Iron, in Piatã (Bahia), when it was approached by two military police officers on Monday (March 28th). They said that the company had summoned them because the journalists had invaded private property. As the crime did not take place, the company then began to request the seizure of captured images.
Guided by the organization’s lawyers, reporters Daniel Camargos and Fernando Martinho refused to hand their pictures over, arguing the need for a judicial authorization for this type of seizure. As there was no agreement between the company and journalists, they were all taken to the police station, in the center of the city. A few hours later, they were released.
When the journalists arrived at Brazil Iron, the logistics manager, Roberto Mann, invited Camargos and Martinho to sit in a meeting room where two British executives from the company were sitting. After the journalists explained what they were researching and on what they would like to obtain clarifications from the mining company, the manager asked them to wait. The mood was friendly. In between, Mann even served coffee to reporters.
The journalists waited for about an hour until two police officers, one of them wielding a machine gun, entered the meeting room, saying they were there at the request of the company. According to them, they received a complaint that reporters had invaded the mining company in the previous days – an accusation that was not confirmed. The company had also requested the seizure of the images produced by the report, according to the police.
“The reporters were, surprisingly, pressured by the company and the military police, as they waited to hear Brazil Iron’s positioning inside their facilities. It is a clear attempt to intimidate journalistic work, to curtail press freedom, which cannot be accepted”, says Leonardo Sakamoto, director of Repórter Brasil.