Brazil's environment minister has blasted DW for a column that accused the new leadership of "cruelty" and destroying the country's natural landscape. Ricardo Salles hit back with a comment about the Holocaust.
DW: After the publication of the column by German journalist Philipp Lichterbeck, you responded to his criticism on Twitter mentioning Nazism. What exactly did you mean by this comparison?
Ricardo Salles: You let this article be published. You are a German public agency, aren't you? You allowed a German public agency to make this criticism of Brazil. It seems pure and absolutely unacceptable to me to say that the Brazilian government rejoices at the death of a 7-year-old girl, or whatever he wrote there. You have to issue an apology.
[The column refers to the reaction of several people on the Internet after the death of Arthur Araujo Lula da Silva, 7, who was the grandson of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva — editors.]
When you say that DW should not publish this content because it is a public agency, what do you mean? That a public broadcaster does not enjoy freedom of the press?
No, that is not press freedom. What he has done there is a pure and gratuitous offense.
DW is a news outlet with the freedom to criticize, just like all other media...
I think you should first talk to Lichterbeck because he wrote an article with a level of belligerence that is absolutely aggressive and offensive.
Why do you believe that his criticism of Brazil's environmental policy was aggressive?
It was not a criticism of environmental policy. Read the passage he wrote, there is nothing about environmental policy there. It is a pure and simple offense — attacking people, attacking the Brazilian government as a whole. It was not environmental criticism.
He criticizes that sectors such as agribusiness and the pesticide industry are favored. How would you respond to that?
If you think that, if you agree with it, then I have nothing more to comment on. If you agree with the opinion that is expressed by him there, then let's finish here.
Minister, I am calling as a journalist to hear your opinion.
Minister Ricardo Salles terminated the call.
This interview was conducted by Nadia Pontes and has been edited for clarity.