HAVANA TIMES – Brazilian authorities must swiftly and thoroughly investigate the assault on journalist Daniel Carniel and ensure he can report safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At 12:47 p.m. on January 14, an unidentified man punched and kicked Carniel several times in his face and body at the entrance of privately owned broadcaster Adesso TV in the city of Garibaldi, in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, according to multiple news reports, a statement by the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI), and Carniel, who spoke to CPJ by phone.
Carniel told CPJ that, while hitting him, the man said, “This is so you learn not to denounce things, say bad things about others, or lie on television.” It is unclear what specific report, if any, prompted the attack.
“Brazilian authorities must act to identify those responsible for the attack on journalist Daniel Carniel and hold the perpetrators accountable,” said Natalie Southwick, CPJ’s Latin America and Caribbean program coordinator, in New York. “Violence against journalists in retaliation to their reporting is a blatant attempt to intimidate and silence the press and, ultimately, undermines the general public’s right to access to information.”
Carniel is the founder of online news outlet Portal Adesso and cable TV broadcaster Adesso TV, where he hosts a daily news show, “Prato Limpo” (“Clean Dish”), during which he covers local news, politics, and corruption, he told CPJ. The program is also broadcast on the outlet’s YouTube channel.
“This act of aggression has a huge impact. If everyone starts believing they can attack a journalist because they don’t like what he says, then no journalist will be able to work again,” Carniel told CPJ. “An aggression against a media worker doesn’t only hurt that person, it hurts an entire class of people, it is an attempt to silence a whole group.”
On January 14, Carniel parked his car and was walking to the Adesso TV building where an unidentified man was waiting for him at the door, the journalist told CPJ. The man followed Carniel inside, asked what his name was, and when Carniel identified himself, the man punched the journalist in the face.
The man punched Carniel several times before throwing the journalist to the ground, where he continued to punch and then started kicking the journalist. Video footage from a street security camera, published alongside news reports of the case and reviewed by CPJ, shows a man waiting outside the offices; the man can be seen following Carniel inside, and then leaving. Shortly after, Carniel exited the building with blood on his face.
“I was able to protect myself a little,” Carniel told CPJ. “My mouth and my nose were bleeding.” The journalist told CPJ that he had two loose teeth, needed 10 stiches in his mouth and chin, and sustained multiple bruises across his body.
After the assault, Carniel called the Rio Grande do Sul state Military Brigade, which arrived after a few minutes and reported the incident, he told CPJ. Then, he broadcast his program and reported the assault to his audience, before going to a local hospital, he said.
During another program, which aired on January 17, he announced that the show would be his final broadcast until he recovered from the attack. On January 17, Carniel gave a deposition to the Garibaldi Civil Police Unit, which is responsible for investigating the case after the Military Brigade passed the case to them.
The Rio Grande do Sul state Public Security Secretary press officer Lurdinha Matos emailed a statement to CPJ saying that the investigation is ongoing, adding that the Garibaldi Civil Police Unit has already identified one suspect, whose whereabouts are currently unknown.