Glenn Greenwald responded to charges levied against him Tuesday by prosecutors in Brazil, who have accused the American journalist of cybercrimes for his role in publishing embarrassing text messages that exposed corruption within the Brazilian judicial system.
According to the government's criminal complaint, Greenwald "directly assisted, encouraged and guided" his sources, who gained access to online chats between prosecutors and others involved in "Operation Car Wash," which The Intercept describes as a 'yearslong, sprawling anti-corruption investigation that roiled Brazilian politics."
Greenwald has denied the charges, citing a Brazilian Federal Police investigation that concluded he committed no crimes - and in fact highlighted his "careful and distant posture regarding the execution" of the alleged hacks.
"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," said Greenwald, adding "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."
Regarding the criminal charges brought by the Bolsonaro government: it’s a grave and obvious attack on a free press, brought by a far-right judge.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 21, 2020
We’re going to defend a free press, not be intimidated by authorities abusing their power. The reporting will continue. pic.twitter.com/kd9b8Kggx3
Operation Car Wash
The political scandal at the heart of Greenwald's corruption charge is Operation Car Wash - which led to the prosecution of major Brazilian construction firms and politicians.
Among its most controversial convictions was that of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whose imprisonment on corruption charges removed him from contention in the 2018 presidential elections, despite leading in the polls. Instead, Bolsonaro won the office and quickly appointed Moro, the judge who convicted Lula, as his justice minister. After the Secret Brazil Archive reporting, the Brazilian Supreme Court released Lula on the basis of a procedural argument, a stinging rebuke of Moro’s work. -The Intercept
The Intercept's reporting relied on a trove of leaked materials which revealed scheming by prosecutors to ensure that Bolsonaro's opposition (the Lula Workers' Party) did not win the election. Prosecutors were also profiting from the scandal.
The Brazilian federal prosecutor who filed the criminal complaint, Wellington Divino Marques de Oliveira, who works in Moro’s Justice Ministry but has prosecutorial independence, wrote in the complaint that Greenwald had “directly assisted, encouraged and guided the criminal group, DURING the criminal practice, acting as guarantor of the group, obtaining financial advantage with the conduct described here.”
Bolsonaro has himself previously suggested that he would like to deport Greenwald and threatened to imprison the journalist for his work. At the time, The Intercept condemned the threat in a statement and reiterated that Greenwald and The Intercept’s other reporters enjoy free-press protections under the Brazilian constitution. -The Intercept
Greenwald's charges have drawn rebuke from across the spectrum.
The free press is never more important than when it exposes wrongdoing by the powerful.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 22, 2020
That is why President Bolsonaro is threatening Glenn Greenwald for the "crime" of doing journalism.
I call on Brazil to end its authoritarian attack on press freedom and the rule of law. https://t.co/NfcVnxT50F
Glenn Greenwald has called me a "deceitful" mouthpiece of the national security state and I assure you I've rarely had a nice thing to say about him. But this is an outrageous assault on press freedom that should alarm every American. https://t.co/7LUKHAtPud— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) January 21, 2020
Grossed out by all the "resistance" accounts cheering the Greenwald charges. If you're reveling in the persecution of a journalist for exposing abuse and corruption, you're aligning yourself with fascism. It doesn't matter how many anti-Trump hashtags you put in your Twitter bio.— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) January 21, 2020
I'm sympathetic to the idea that solidarity can be extended to people you may disagree with or even dislike. But I think it really trivializes what Glenn and his family are up against in Brazil to qualify or hedge on your well-wishes, especially at a time like this.— Luke Savage (@LukewSavage) January 21, 2020