Latin America & Caribbean

'Gag' on Brazil media reporting blackmail attempt on Temer lifted

Michel and Marcela Temer in Brasilia, 7 Feb 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Michel Temer, 76, and Marcela, 33, have been married since 2003

A high court judge in Brazil has overturned a ruling that banned the media from publishing information about blackmail attempts against President Michel Temer's wife.

Two leading newspapers had been forced to remove reports of messages exchanged between Marcela Temer and a man convicted of hacking her mobile phone.

The hacker demanded money for withholding information.

The judge said the news blackout violated freedom of speech.

The two newspapers, O Globo and Folha de Sao Paulo, said the documents had already been published in court and that forbidding their publication amounted to censorship.

"There is no indication that the journalistic activity on the part of Folha was meant to follow an irresponsible or abusive editorial line," judge Arnoldo Camanho ruled.

'Name in the mud'

The hacker, Silvonei Jose de Jesus Souza, was sentenced in October to nearly six years in jail for extortion and larceny.

He had demanded nearly $100,000 (£80,000) from Mrs Temer in return for not publishing video, audio and pictures from her smart phone.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Witnesses have accused Mr Temer of involvement in the Petrobras corruption scandal

In one message, he told her that a video hacked from the phone could drag President Temer's name into the mud.

Mr Temer has been implicated in the huge corruption scandal involving the state oil company, Petrobras.

His name has been mentioned by executives of the the country's biggest building company, Odebrecht, which paid bribes to politicians and senior officers to wind contracts.

Mr Temer denies any wrongdoing.

He was also criticised for his alleged role in the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff last year.

Mr Temer replaced Ms Rousseff in May when she was suspended by Congress for budget irregularities.

He was sworn in to finish off her term when she was dismissed by Congress in September.

Ms Rousseff said she was the victim of a political coup and accused Mr Temer of joining the plot against her.

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