A rescue team tasked with finding missing British journalist Dom Philipps and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira on the Javari River in the state of Acre, Brazil, on the border with Peru

Dom Phillips: Editors around the world urge Bolsonaro to do more to find missing journalist | Brazil

Editors and reporters from some of the world’s biggest news agencies have written to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro asking him to “urgently intensify and fully mobilize efforts” to find British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous lawyer Bruno Pereira.

Led by the Guardian and the Washington Post, two newspapers for which Phillips worked as a freelance correspondent, editors from at least 20 major media outlets and press freedom organizations signed the open letter which was published Thursday.

Other signatories include editors of The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Folha de S. Paulo, National Public Radio, Bloomberg News, Associated Press, Financial Times, Pulitzer Center, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, ProPublica, Intercept, Agência Pública de Journalismo Investigativo, Dagens Nyheter, Mongabay, Stat, Reporters Without Borders, the Wallace House Center for Journalists and the epbr agency.

“We are writing to express our extreme concern for the safety and whereabouts of our colleague and friend Dom Phillips, and Bruno Araújo Pereira, with whom Dom was traveling. Dom is a globally respected journalist with a deep love for Brazil and its people,” reads the letter, which was also addressed to Brazil’s defense and foreign ministers.

“As you know from numerous press reports, Dom and Bruno have now been missing in the Amazon for over three days. Their families, friends and colleagues have repeatedly requested assistance from local, state and national authorities and emergency services.

“As editors and colleagues who have worked with Dom, we are now very concerned by reports from Brazil that search and rescue efforts have so far been minimally resourced, with national authorities slow to offer more than very limited assistance.

“We ask that you urgently intensify and provide full efforts to locate Dom and Bruno, and provide all possible support to their families and friends.”

The two men were last seen on Sunday morning on the Itaquaí River in the far west of Brazil.

A rescue team tasked with finding missing British journalist Dom Philipps and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira on the Javari River in the state of Acre, Brazil, on the border with Peru
A rescue team tasked with finding missing British journalist Dom Philipps and Brazilian indigenous expert Bruno Pereira on the Javari River in the state of Acre, Brazil, on the border with Peru Photo: Amazon Military Command/AFP/Getty Images

Phillips was working on a book about the development of the rainforest and was accompanied by Pereira, an explorer who has worked with indigenous tribes in the area for years.

The area where they went to travel is remote and search efforts have been slow to get started. In the hours following the disappearance of the two men, the Brazilian army said it was awaiting orders before launching a search.

On Wednesday, as public pressure mounted amid campaigns by luminaries such as soccer legend Pele, singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso and actor Camila Pitanga, officials said they had stepped up operations, with 250 people, two planes, three drones and 16 ships involved in the search.

Police said they had arrested a man, who sources said had been seen with Phillips and Pereira, but officials said they did not directly link him to any crime.

At the same time, news outlets have united to pressure a government that has scorned the media since coming to power in 2019.

Brazil’s extremist president has frequently attacked the press, even pointing the finger at journalists with insults and abuse.

Bolsonaro even appeared to blame Phillips and Pereira for their own troubles when he called their reporting trip “an adventure that is not recommendable for anyone”.

In an editorial, the Guardian called on governments and organizations to put pressure on the far-right leader.

“The government is very unlikely to change course without international pressure,” he said. “This must first be implemented to produce an adequate response to this disappearance.”

Full list of letter signatories

Katharine Viner, Editor, Guardian News & Media

Sally Buzbee, editor, tthe washington post

Dean Baquet, editor, tthe New York Times

Sérgio Dávila, editor-in-chief, Folha de S. Paulo

Nancy Barnes, supper vice-president of news and eeditorial dDirector, RNP

John Micklethwait, Editor, Bloomberg News

Julie Pace, SVP & eexecutive andeditorthe Associated Press

John Forerunner, South America bureau chief, Wall Street Journal

Marina Walker Guevara, andexecutive andeditor, Pulitzer Center

Rozina Breen, Editor and CEO, Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Stephen Engelberg, Editor, ProPublica

Paul Webster, publisher, the observer

Jason Ukman, Editor, Stat

Thiago Domenici, Director, Public Agency for Investigative Journalism

Rhett Butler, fFounder and CEO, Mongabay

Peter Wolodarski, Editor-in-Chief, Dagens Nyheter

Roger Hodge, d.deputyeditorhe intercepts

Felipe Maciel, executive director, epbr agency

Phil Chetwynd, boverall news dDirector, AFP

Roula Khalaf, editor of the Financial Times

Emmanuel Colombié, Latin America dDirector, Reporters Without Borders

Lynette Clemetson, ddirector, Wallace House Center for Journalists

Quinn McKew, Executive Director, Article 19

Jodie Ginsberg, Chair, Committee to Protect Journalists

Gregory Feifer, a.executive ofDirector, Institute of Current Global Affairs

Lindsey Hilsum, Iinternationaleditor, Channel 4 News

Christina Lamb, Chief Foreign Correspondent, Sunday Times

Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Channel 4 News presenter

Jon Lee Anderson, biographer and New Yorker writer

Leonardo Sakamoto, director, Reporter Brasil

Nelly Luna Amancio, Editor-in-Chief, OjoPúblico

Katia Brasil, Executive Director, Amazônia Real

André Petry, editor-in-chief, Revista Piauí

Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor, The Atlantic

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