US calls for ‘responsibility’ in Brazil for murder of British journalist and pundit

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The British journalist and an indigenous expert were last seen early on June 5 in the Amazon region of Brazil.

Washington:

The United States on Friday called for accountability over the murder in the Brazilian Amazon of a British journalist and an indigenous expert, as it saluted rainforest defenders.

State Department spokesman Ned Price offered his condolences to the families of journalist Dom Phillips and his expert guide Bruno Pereira, saying they had been “murdered for supporting the conservation of the rainforest and indigenous peoples there”.

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“We call for accountability and justice – we must collectively step up efforts to protect environmental defenders and journalists,” Price wrote on Twitter.

The killings were confirmed days after President Joe Biden held an initial meeting with his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro, who faced criticism over the episode.

Campaigners say Bolsonaro has sacrificed law and order in the Amazon as he pushes for trade expansion.

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Bolsonaro appeared in an interview to blame the missing men for taking a “reckless” trip to an area where Phillips was “hated”.

An ally of former President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro nevertheless appeared optimistic after meeting Biden on the sidelines of a summit in Los Angeles a week ago.

Biden at the meeting expressed concern about climate change and deforestation in the Amazon, a vital “sink” for the planet’s carbon.

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Brazilian police said the killers of Phillips and Pereira acted alone and were not part of a criminal group, a claim denied by indigenous leaders.

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