Brazilian Reporter Arrested Trying to Interview Yale Seminar Speaker

A Brazilian reporter trying to interview Brazil's Supreme Court President, Joaquim Barbosa, was arrested for trespassing after she allegedly entered a Yale Law School building on Thursday.

O Estado de S Paulo correspondent Claudia Trevisan claims the University was trying to keep quiet Barbosa's participation in the 2013 Global Constitutionalism Seminar (one of the University's "signature international programs"), and denied her request to attend, saying it was held in a private building.

Trevisan says she told Yale Law School communications director Janet Conroy that she would go anyway and wait for Barbosa on the sidewalk.

According to Trevisan, she eventually entered Woolsey Hall, a Yale concert hall, where tourists, students, and pedestrians were walking around, to find out if she was in the right place. She asked a Yale police officer if the seminar was in that building, and he apparently recognized her as a journalist and began questioning her. She says the officer also took her passport, detained her for an hour inside a police car, then handed her over to New Haven Police, where she was held in a cell for more than three hours. (Is this what happened to the squirrels, too?) Trevisan was reportedly able to report her arrest over the phone to a diplomat at the Brazilian embassy.

A second reporter for Folha de São Paulo, also there to talk to Barbosa, was apparently better received — a policeman escorted him outside of the building and warned him if he tried to enter again he would be arrested.

A spokesperson for Yale gave a statement to the Guardian, saying that Trevisan was dishonest with police.

"She came onto Yale property, entered the law school without permission, and proceeded to enter another building where the attendees of the seminar were meeting. When asked why she was in the building, she stated that she was looking for a friend she was supposed to meet. She was arrested for trespassing. The police followed normal procedures and Ms Trevisan was not mistreated in any way.

No one answered at the Yale Police Department communications line, but according to the Yale PD website, there was an arrest for trespassing outside Woolsey at 6:44 p.m. Trevisan says she arrived at Yale at 3:30 p.m.

Yale says that because the seminar was a private event closed to the public and the media, Trevisan was not permitted on Yale property. This raises an interesting question since Trevisan claims that the building was open to the general public — and that she was singled out as a journalist merely for entering to ask a cop if she was in the right place. Legally, she was probably fine on the sidewalk, while the building would probably be classified as a "limited public forum". If other tourists and non-members of the seminar were permitted to ask the cop inside for help or directions, arresting Trevisan for engaging in the same behavior while being a journalist could be illegal.

Either way, the argument will probably never be heard — Yale says it does not intend to pursue the trespassing charges.

[image via Shutterstock]