The Intercept Condemns Brazilian Criminal Complaint Against Glenn Greenwald as an Attack on Free Press

On Tuesday, a federal prosecutor in Brazil announced a denunciation of American journalist and Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald related to his work on a series of stories published on The Intercept and The Intercept Brasil. The denunciation is a criminal complaint that would open the door to a further judicial proceedings. It alleges that Greenwald “directly assisted, encouraged and guided” individuals who reportedly obtained access to online chats used by prosecutors and others involved in Operation Car Wash, a yearslong, sprawling anti-corruption investigation that roiled Brazilian politics.

The denunciation will now go before a judge who can approve or deny the request for charges.

The Intercept and Greenwald both released statements Tuesday decrying the federal prosecutor’s accusation as an attack on Brazil’s free press in line with recent abuses by the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Abuses committed by Justice Minister Sergio Moro when he served as the presiding judge in Operation Car Wash were central to The Intercept’s reporting in the Brazil Secret Archive series.

“We are appalled that Brazil’s Public Ministry has decided to file such a blatantly politically motivated charge against Greenwald, in apparent retaliation for The Intercept’s critical reporting.”

“The Bolsonaro government has repeatedly made it clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms. Today’s announcement that a criminal complaint has been filed against Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald is the latest example of journalists facing serious threats in Brazil,” The Intercept said in its statement, which can be read below in full. “We are appalled that Brazil’s Public Ministry has decided to file such a blatantly politically motivated charge against Greenwald, in apparent retaliation for The Intercept’s critical reporting on abuses committed by Justice Minister Moro and several federal prosecutors.”

“We at The Intercept see this as an attempt to criminalize not only our journalism but also that of the dozens of partners who collaborated with our staff in over 95 stories based on the archives,” The Intercept said. “There is no democracy without a free press, and defenders of the press everywhere should be deeply concerned about Bolsonaro’s latest authoritarian move.”

Greenwald denied the charges in his statement, citing a previous Brazilian Federal Police investigation that concluded he had committed no crimes and noted his “careful and distant posture regarding the execution” of 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,” Greenwald said in the statement, which can be read below in full. “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 accusation — 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,” said Greenwald, who also co-founded The Intercept Brasil. “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.”

Operation Car Wash prosecuted 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 series of Intercept stories about Operation Car Wash relied on a trove of previously undisclosed materials and provided an unprecedented insight into the anti-corruption investigation. The revelations included scheming by purportedly apolitical prosecutors to ensure that Lula’s Workers’ Party did not win the election; prohibited collaboration between the Car Wash prosecutors and Moro; and controversial personal enrichment by prosecutors, among many other revelations published in English and Portuguese.

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.

Read The Intercept’s full statement:

The Bolsonaro government has repeatedly made it clear that it does not believe in basic press freedoms. Today’s announcement that a criminal complaint has been filed against Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald is the latest example of journalists facing serious threats in Brazil.

The evidence cited today by Brazil’s Public Ministry is the same that was rigorously analyzed by the country’s Federal Police, leading the agency to conclude that Greenwald did not commit any crimes in his contacts with the alleged source of our Secret Brazil Archive stories. Glenn Greenwald was not formally investigated by the Federal Police, but they concluded that there was no indication of wrongdoing committed by him.

We are appalled that Brazil’s Public Ministry has decided to file such a blatantly politically motivated charge against Greenwald, in apparent retaliation for The Intercept’s critical reporting on abuses committed by Justice Minister Moro and several federal prosecutors.

We at The Intercept see this as an attempt to criminalize not only our journalism but also that of the dozens of partners who collaborated with our staff in over 95 stories based on the archives. There is no democracy without a free press, and defenders of the press everywhere should be deeply concerned about Bolsonaro’s latest authoritarian move.

Read Glenn Greenwald’s full statement:

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.

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. 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 accusation — 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. It is also on 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 Minister 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.

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