Famed journalist Glenn Greenwald on Tuesday reacted to the news that the Brazilian government has charged him with “cybercrimes” by railing against President Jair Bolsonaro’s regime and its attempts to silence the press.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday morning that Brazilian prosecutors alleged that Greenwald was part of a “criminal organization” that hacked into the cellphones of public officials and prosecutors. In multiple stories for The Intercept, which he co-founded, Greenwald published some of those leaked embarrassing messages and, per a criminal complaint, damaged the reputation of an anti-corruption task force.
“The Bolsonaro government and the movement that supports it has made repeatedly clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms—from Bolsonaro's threats against Folha to his attacks on journalists that have incited violence to Sergio Moro’s threats from the start to classify us as ‘allies of the hackers’ for revealing his corruption,” Greenwald said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
“Less than two months ago, the Federal Police, examining all the same evidence cited by the Public Ministry, stated explicitly that not only have I never committed any crime but that I exercised extreme caution as a journalist never even to get close to any participation,” he continued. “Even the Federal Police under Minister Moro's command said what is clear to any rational person: I did nothing more than do my job as a journalist—ethically and within the law.”
“This denunciation—brought by the same prosecutor who just tried and failed to criminally prosecute the head of the Brazilian Bar Association for criticizing Minister Moro—is an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about Minister Moro and the Bolsonaro government,” Greenwald asserted. “It is also an attack on the Brazilian Supreme Court, which ruled in July that I am entitled to have my press freedom protected in response to other retaliatory attacks from Judge Moro, and even an attack on the findings of the Federal Police, which concluded explicitly after a comprehensive investigation that I committed no crimes and solely acted as a journalist.
“We will not be intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence journalists. I am working right now on new reporting and will continue to do so. Many courageous Brazilians sacrificed their liberty and even life for Brazilian democracy and against repression, and I feel an obligation to continue their noble work.”
Greenwald and his husband, David Miranda, have been tangling with the Jair Bolsonaro regime ever since the right-wing populist became president of Brazil—through a questionable election—in January 2019.
Aside from repeated death threats from Bolsonaro’s supporters, echoing their leader’s virulent homophobia, the president himself has threatened Greenwald with imprisonment while other government officials have threatened investigations of their personal finances and to take their two adopted children from them.
During a radio appearance in November, Greenwald got into a fistfight, live on the air, with a far-right journalist and Bolsonaro supporter who had urged Brazil’s juvenile court to investigate Greenwald’s family. After Greenwald repeatedly called Augusto Nunes a “coward,” Nunes slapped him and Greenwald responded in kind as others in the studio held the two combatants back.
“We are the antithesis of Bolsonaro,” Miranda told The New York Times in July, a few weeks after The Intercept Brasil, which Greenwald edits, published explosive text messages between government officials that provoked a firestorm in Brazilian politics and cast doubt on the legitimacy on Bolsonaro’s election. “We’re everything they hate.”
The messages implicated Brazilian prosecutors and judges in a plot to arrest and jail Bolsonaro’s opponent, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, on bogus charges and prevent him from running for a third term in the 2018 election.
An investigation conducted by the Brazilian federal police identified the hacker who accessed the text messages and cleared Greenwald of wrongdoing, while The Intercept Brasil and Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes pointed out that publishing the messages was protected under the freedom of the press provisions of the 1988 Brazilian constitution.