A Facebook executive has been arrested in Brazil after the firm failed to co-operate with court orders in a drug-trafficking case, police have said.
According to reports, Facebook’s vice-president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan, was held for questioning in Sao Paulo on Tuesday.
Court officials in the Brazilian state of Sergipe requested his arrest.
Facebook said it was an “extreme and disproportionate measure”.
“Facebook has always been and will be available to address any questions Brazilian authorities may have,” the company said. It added that the arrest stemmed from a case involving its messaging service WhatsApp, which operates separately from the Facebook platform.
Federal police in Sao Paulo said they carried out an arrest warrant issued by a criminal judge from the Lagarto district, in Brazil’s smallest state, Sergipe. A statement released by the force said Facebook had been ordered by a court to provide evidence that would aid an investigation into “organised crime and drug trafficking” that was being heard in private.
The Reuters news agency reported that court officials in Sergipe also confirmed the detention of Diego Dzodan.
A source told the Daily Released that the Facebook office in Brazil deals only in sales and said that no-one there had access to WhatsApp user information or the authority to make decisions on behalf of the messaging app.
Privacy concerns have frequently put Facebook and other internet giants at odds with Brazilian law enforcement officers seeking evidence in criminal cases, although the confrontations rarely rise to the prominence of Apple Inc’s current stand-off with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Reuters said.
In December, a Brazilian judge suspended the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging service for about 12 hours after the firm failed to comply with two court orders to share information in a criminal case. WhatsApp is reported to be the most used application in Brazil, with about 93 million users.
Brazilian courts have not shied away from targeting senior tech officials. Reuters reported that, in 2012, an elections court in Mato Grosso do Sul ordered the detention of Google’s most senior executive in Brazil after the company failed to take down YouTube videos attacking a local mayoral candidate.