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Brazilian Consular General Blasts Journalist’s Detention
by Paul Bass | Sep 30, 2013 10:28 am
The region’s top Brazilian diplomat Monday expressed outrage over Yale police’s decision to handcuff a prominent Brazilian reporter and incarcerate her for five hours for trying to cover a campus event.
In an interview with the Independent, Hartford-based Consular General Cezar Amaral called the handling of Claudia Trevisan last Thursday an “exaggeration” on the part of the police.
“If this happened with an American correspondent in Brazil, it would be a scandal,” Amaral said. “It would be front-page news.”
Yale police arrested Trevisan last Thursday afternoon on trespassing charges after she entered a stairwell in Woolsey Hall looking to confirm the location of an unpublicized Yale Law School seminar including Brazilian Supreme Court President Joaquim Barbosa. She approached an officer and asked if the event was taking place in the building. She did not attempt to enter the seminar room. Nor did she identify herself as a journalist. It turned out the police were aware she had already sought, and failed, to gain permission to cover the event and had expressed her intention to stand on a sidewalk to try to question Barbosa. The officer escorted Trevisan outside Woolsey Hall, kept her passport, handcuffed her, eventually had her transported to the Union Avenue police lock-up. She said she spent five hours in police custody, most of that time locked up with women banging on the bars and having to go to the bathroom in front of male marshals, until finally being released on a promise to appear in court to answer a first-degree criminal trespassing charge. Yale defended the arrest in two press statements over the weekend, one of which suggested that the law school dean had reservations about the handling of the matter. Click here to read a full account of the episode, including an interview Trevisan.
Consular General Amaral said Monday morning that he has been instructed to provide reporter Trevisan with an attorney and additional staff assistance in dealing with the case. Yale has asked that the state drop the charges.
Amaral called Trevisan (pictured) “a quite experienced reporter” with O Estado de S.Paulo, “one of the biggest newspapers in Brazil.” Before assuming the U.S. beat for the paper earlier this year, she spent five years covering China for the paper.
Amaral focused his outrage on the handling of Amaral after the police escorted her out of Woolsey. A Brazilian diplomat since 1975, he said he cannot remember similar treatment of a Brazilian reporter anywhere else in the world.
“Not with handcuffs and without communication for five hours,” he said.
“Five hours without communication! It’s too much.”
Yale’s statement called her handcuffing “standard procedure” for a trespass complaint and noted that another Brazilian journalist waited for Barbosa outside Woolsey without incident.
The statement also mentioned in passing that when “Yale Law School Dean Robert Post was informed that an arrest had taken place, he immediately requested that Ms. Trevisan be released and that the charges be dropped,”
Barbosa, a controversial figure currently taking on corruption by high officials in his country, participated in a three-day “Global Constitutionalism Seminar.” The event included U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and leading jurists from around the world, a group requiring serious security.
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The Society of Professional Journalists ethics handbook notes that deception should only be used when all other means have been exhausted.
Ms. Trevisan wasn’t investigating a grave and present danger like a potential nuclear reactor meltdown, she was just trying to gain access to a public official.
Ms. Trevisan trespassed and then lied to the police. Sorry newsies; the collar was heavy handed but not wrong.
I couldn’t agree more with the Brazillian diplomat. Yale’s response was heavy handed and wrong. A statement to that effect should have been the statement given - not that gobbly goop that tried to put lipstick and rouge on a keystone decision by top brass. If it was so right, then it’s time for those making the decision to come forward and own it.