Glenn Greenwald charged with cybercrimes in Brazil

Glenn Greenwald is the left-wing journalist who founded the Intercept. He lives in Brazil and also founded a Brazilian news site called The Intercept Brasil. Last June that site published a story based on “private chats, audio recordings, videos, photos, court proceedings, and other documentation — provided to us by an anonymous source.” That story involved an investigation which eventually brought down a leftist president and paved the way for a right-wing replacement Jair Bolsonaro. Here’s how the NY times reported it at the time:

Excerpts from cellphone chats published Sunday night by the online news site The Intercept suggest that Sérgio Moro, the most prominent judge involved in hearing cases in the scandal known as Lava Jato, or Car Wash, consulted with and advised federal prosecutors on strategy as they took on towering political figures in recent years.

The revelations provide powerful ammunition to critics of Mr. Moro, who convicted former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of corruption and money laundering in 2017, which made him ineligible to run for a new term in last year’s presidential election.

Mr. da Silva’s imprisonment paved the way for the election of Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right politician who appointed Mr. Moro as justice minister and offered to appoint him to the next vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Now prosecutors in Brazil are accusing Greenwald of complicity in the illegal procurement of the materials that formed the basis of those reports:

In a 95-page criminal complaint, prosecutors say that The Intercept Brasil, the news organization Mr. Greenwald co-founded, did more than merely receive the hacked messages and oversee the publication of newsworthy information.

Citing intercepted messages between Mr. Greenwald and the hackers, prosecutors say the journalist played a “clear role in facilitating the commission of a crime.”

For instance, prosecutors contend that Mr. Greenwald encouraged the hackers to delete archives that had already been shared with The Intercept Brasil, in order to cover their tracks.

Prosecutors also say that Mr. Greenwald was communicating with the hackers while they were actively monitoring private chats on Telegram, a messaging app.

Greenwald responded to the charges in a video posted on Twitter. He offered three points including that the prosecutor who made the complaint recently tried to prosecute the head of the Brazilian Bar Association, also for criticizing Sergio Moro. He also said a recent review of the facts completed two months ago concluded that he had never committed a crime in connection with these reports.

Lots of people on the left (and some on the right) were siding with Greenwald today saying this really does look like an attack on press freedom by the government. Jake Tapper pointed out that Bolsonaro himself has previously suggested Greenwald could do jail time over the Intercept reports. And just a couple of months ago a pro-Bolsonaro reporter attacked Greenwald while they were on the air:

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