Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 14:36 UK

Portugal PM in 'censorship' row

Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates
Mr Socrates wants the Socialists to keep their parliamentary majority

Portugal's Prime Minister Jose Socrates is embroiled in a row after a national TV channel shelved a programme dealing with alleged government corruption.

Chief editors of the privately run TVI channel resigned after the broadcast - due on Friday - was dropped.

Its owners said the cancellation was due to scheduling priorities.

Opposition politicians have accused the ruling Socialists of censorship. But Mr Socrates, who is running for re-election, denies influencing TVI.

The shelved programme dealt with the so-called Freeport case, involving claims that government officials took bribes during the construction of a shopping mall south of Lisbon in 2002.

Mr Socrates, who was environment minister at the time, has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Socrates is now campaigning in the run-up to a general election on 27 September, with his Socialist Party's absolute majority in parliament at stake.

Opposition fury

The deputy leader of the main opposition party, the centre-right PSD, accused the government of an attack on freedom of speech.

"We have a prime minister and government who coexist very, very badly indeed with the freedoms and who don't mind using any means in order to control or silence those who criticise them," said Jose Aguiar Branco in a statement to Reuters news agency.

The Minister for Parliament Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, hit back, saying "innuendos and accusations that try to link the decision by a private company [TVI] with the [Socialist] party are absolutely false".

A TVI management statement said scheduling priorities had prompted the decision to drop the broadcast. It cited "the need to reinforce the consistency of the National Journal news programme during the whole week".

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