Bastos confirms suspension of reporter's visa cancellation

14/05/2004 - 21h53

São Paulo, May 17, 2004 (Agência Brasil) - The Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, announced on Friday (14) the government's decision to suspend the revocation of American reporter Larry Rohter's temporary visa. In a petition addressed to the Ministry of Justice by the Pinheiro Neto law office, also on Friday, the New York Times correspondent requested a reconsideration of the decision to revoke the visa.

In the petition, Rohter claims he had no intention of offending President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's honor, reaffirms his deep affection for Brazil and respect for Brazil's democratic institutions, and regrets any embarrassment caused by the repercussions and controversy ensuing publication of his article. Rohter's article, which was published two Sundays ago (9), insinuated that President Lula has a problem with alcoholic beverages.

Concerning the petition to reconsider, Bastos told Lula that "juridically, it was a substantial retraction." The President consequently decided to put the case to rest.

The New York Times issued a note declaring that it is very pleased with the Brazilian government's decision to revise its stance on the reporter Larry Rohter. The note states that both Brazil and the newspaper benefit from having a Times correspondent covering this "important country."

Nevertheless, the newspaper affirms that the article on President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva published two Sundays ago is "accurate and fair." And though it expresses regret for the political controvery, the Times declares that the petition directed to the government "contains neither an apology nor a retraction."

Translator: David Silberstein