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Brazil calls NY Times alcohol story 'slander'
Updated: 2004-05-10 09:45

Brazil on Sunday condemned as slanderous a New York Times article about the drinking habits of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

"The Brazilian government will study the appropriate measures to defend the honor of the president of the republic and the image of Brazil overseas," presidential spokesman Andre Singer said in a statement.

The article in the Sunday New York Times said "some of his countrymen have begun wondering if their president's predilection for strong drink is affecting his performance in office."

But Singer said Lula's social habits were "moderate and not at all different from those of the average Brazilian citizen."

"Only prejudice and lack of ethics can explain this strange attempt to put (his) credibility and his commitment to institutions in doubt."

Earlier on Sunday, the president's press office said it did not consider the article to be journalism "but slander, defamation, and prejudice, and the issue will be treated as such."

Singer did not say what measures Brazil was contemplating. But he said Brazil's ambassador in Washington had been instructed to tell the newspaper of the government's disgust about the article.

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