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News > Latin America

On Again, Off Again: Lula Interview Hangs in The Balance

  • Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a rally in Curitiba, Brazil on March 28, 2018.

    Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva speaks during a rally in Curitiba, Brazil on March 28, 2018. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 29 September 2018

Two ministers of the Federal Supreme Court in Brazil, over a 24-hour period, have made Lula's first interview since he was imprisoned, hang in the balance.

Friday morning Federal Supreme Court (STF) minister (or judge) Ricardo Lewandoski, authorized that former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva could grant an interview to local media Folha de Sao Paulo.

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"There is no way of arriving at any other conclusion, except that the decision of the 12th Federal Court of Curitiba, censoring the press and denying the prisoner the right to contact the outside world, on the ground that there is no constitutional or legal provision that encapsulates the inmate's right to grant interviews or similar," Lewandoski argued to sustain his decision.

The judge highlighted that it is common for the media to interview inmates in Brazil and that the process does not present any security issues to the prison system. Lewandoski added that Lula is not in a high-security prison "nor he is under an uncommunicated detention status."

In response to the request of Folha de Sao Paulo journalist Florestan Fernandes for an interview with Lula, the journalist's legal representative Cezar Britto said: "Minister Lewandowski's decision grants legal protection to freedoms of expression, information and the press."

Less than 24 hours later Luiz Fux, another minister in the STF, granted an injunction suspending any interview with the former president Lula. The injunction was requested by the "Partido Novo" (New Party). Minister Lux determined that Lula "has to refrain from conducting interviews or statements to any media, be it the press or other way intended for the transmission of information to the general public."

Lux said, if the interview has already been done, the injunction enacts "prohibition of the disclosure of its content in any way, under penalty of the configuration of a crime of disobedience." 

The recording, release and distribution of the interview will be suspended until this specific case is considered in the plenary of the Supreme Federal Court, where all the judges of this court through a vote will decide if former President Lula will be allowed to give an interview.

Former President Lula has been held prisoner since April over a controversial corruption conviction. Many legal experts have remarked that, in accordance with Brazil's constitution, Lula - who has easily led all presidential election polls - should not have been prevented from participating in the elections until all of his legal appeals have been exhausted.

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