Brazil's Bolsonaro says no more media interviews

Since his election campaign in 2018, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has often lashed out at reporters or outlets (AFP Photo/Sergio LIMA)

Sao Paulo (AFP) - A frequent and fiery critic of Brazil's media, President Jair Bolsonaro declared Wednesday he would no longer speak to journalists.

Bolsonaro made the remarks outside his official residence in Brasilia where most mornings for the past year he has fielded questions from reporters and greeted fans.

"I want to speak with you, but the national journalism association says that when I speak, I attack them," Bolsonaro told reporters.

"As I am a person of peace, I will not give more interviews."

The move comes after the National Federation of Journalists said last week Bolsonaro's presidency had "significantly affected the freedom of the press in Brazil."

It registered 208 attacks -- including physical and verbal -- against the media or journalists in 2019, an increase of 54 percent compared with the previous year.

Bolsonaro was responsible for more than half of the incidents, it said. He mostly used public statements such as speeches, interviews or tweets to attack the media.

Since his election campaign in 2018, Bolsonaro has often lashed out at reporters or outlets.

Bolsonaro said in July that US journalist Glenn Greenwald -- who was charged with cybercrimes on Tuesday -- could "do jail time" over the publication of leaked chats that threatened to undermine a massive corruption probe.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly in September, Bolsonaro accused the media of "lying" about the extent of fires raging in the Amazon.

The following month Bolsonaro announced he had cancelled his subscription to the respected daily Folha de S. Paulo.

He also threatened to cancel TV Globo's broadcasting license over a report linking him to a person accused of murdering a Rio de Janeiro councilwoman.