Google's YouTube site has previously been sanctioned in Brazil over videos critical of political candidates.
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images

Story highlights

NEW: Authorities release Google's president in Brazil after arrest

An arrest warrant accuses Fabio Jose Silva Coelho of "disobedience"

He was asked to remove videos that allegedly slandered a mayoral candidate

Google argues that it isn't responsible for the YouTube videos' content

(CNN) —  

Authorities arrested Google’s top executive in Brazil Wednesday after officials said he violated the South American country’s election law when he didn’t take down online videos that allegedly slandered a political candidate.

An arrest warrant in the southwest state of Mato Grosso do Sul accuses Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, Google’s president in Brazil, of “disobedience” for not removing YouTube videos about a local mayoral candidate.

Federal police arrested Coelho Wednesday, but described the alleged crime as a “minor offense” and said he would be released on his own recognizance after signing a commitment paper to appear in court.

CNN affiliate Band News reported that he had been released Wednesday evening.

A Google spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In court documents, the company argues that it isn’t responsible for the contents of the videos on the Google-owned YouTube site and asks for the case to be dismissed.

Under Brazilian law, the penalty for disobeying a judge’s order could be up to six months in prison or a fine.

Earlier this month, another company executive faced a similar order in the northern state of Paraiba for a video that allegedly slandered a mayoral candidate there.

That case was dismissed after Google successfully convinced the judge that it was not responsible for the contents of the video, but simply provided a platform for its diffusion.

In August, Facebook faced an order to remove a page criticizing a political candidate or be forced to go dark in the country for 24 hours. The judge in that case suspended his decision two days after it was issued.

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