Pacific Scoop

East Timor president honours crusading editor for ‘courageous journalism’

Jose Belo ... all smiles. Photo: APHEDA

José Belo ... all smiles. Photo: APHEDA

By Tempo Semanal in Dili

Independent journalist and editor José Belo and his Tempo Semanal print and online publication have been awarded a medal by East Timor President José Ramos-Horta for their “courageous work” in journalism.

The President recognised the political risk in making the award because politicians “don’t like journalists who always gave them a headache”.

Tempo Semanal has constantly challenged the coalition government with allegations of corruption and poor administration.

But Horta said in his presentation remarks that if in future José Belo and Tempo Semanal should target him there would be no problem.

José Belo said the medal was awarded for his fellow Tempo Semanal journalists and a challenge for them to be even more serious in their work.

“For me this is a challenge award and we have to prove to our readers that the president has made this award to us correctly,” he said.

Tempo Semanal is an impoverished weekly newspaper in Dili which is nationally distributed to all villages and schools in the rural areas.

Tempo Semanal was sued by Justice Minister Lucia Brandao Lobato in 2008 after it published allegations of corruption, nepotism and collusion.

The minister alleged Belo had defamed her by publishing the story and lodged a case of criminal defamation against the editor and Tempo Semanal.

This case has been taken up by global media freedom organisations.

José Belo said he was ready to prove this controversial story before the courts but it seemed like the government and minister were afraid to move on the case.

“I have appealed to the two deputy prime ministers to ask the Minister of Justice to keep pushing the case ahead so we have responsibility to prove our story or be imprisoned,” said Belo.

Tempo Semanal awarded medal
Journos, media educators rally behind José Belo
– Café Pacific
Video on YouTube