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Photograph: Screenshot

Brazilian authorities arrested a Facebook executive Tuesday for allegedly refusing to cooperate with law enforcement officials, Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported.

Diego Dzodan, Facebook's vice president for Latin America, was arrested in his apartment in Sao Paulo four months after a judge had asked the company to hand over an exchange on its WhatsApp messaging service between two suspected drug dealers.

In a statement, WhatsApp said it was "disappointed that law enforcement took this extreme step," and said it did not have the information authorities were looking for.

"WhatsApp cannot provide information we do not have. We cooperated to the full extent of our ability in this case," it added.

The company does not save user messages.

Authorities responded that they had requested not the content of the messages, but location and user data attached to them.

Facebook, which bought the messaging service WhatsApp in 2014, released a statement decrying the "extreme and disproportionate measure," and pointing out that the two companies operate independently of one another.

In December a Brazilian judge temporarily blocked the messaging app after its refusal to cooperate with authorities.

After just 14 hours, a court of appeals overturned the ban and instead ordered a fine.

The case comes amid a fervid international debate over the responsibilities of technology companies to law enforcement.

Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg recently declared his support for Apple, which has so far refused a US court order to help crack the encryption on the iPhone used by one of two assailants who killed 14 people in a terror attack December 2 in San Bernardino, California.

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