Published: Wed, January 22, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

'Beyond Disturbing': Right-Wing Bolsonaro Government Charges Journalist Glenn Greenwald With Cybercrimes

'Beyond Disturbing': Right-Wing Bolsonaro Government Charges Journalist Glenn Greenwald With Cybercrimes

The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalists said in a statement that "the charges against Greenwald are based on a distorted interpretation of conversations of the journalist with his source, and has as its sole goal embarrassing the professional, which is very serious". The MacBook, according to the prosecutors' statement, contained an audio recording with a conversation between the journalist and one of the hackers about the intercepted messages.

"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 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 exclusively acted as a journalist", Greenwald continued.

The Telegram exchanges in question are linked to The Intercept's extensive reporting series questioning the ethics and methods employed by the anti-corruption taskforce, which began in June 2019.

But then, in a sweeping decision, a judge on Brazil's supreme court ruled that any attempt by the Bolsonaro government or the police to investigation Greenwald and the Intercept for its reporting would "constitute an unambiguous act of censorship" and would violate Brazil's constitution. "Moro now wields huge police and surveillance powers in Brazil - courtesy of a president who was elected only after Moro, while he was a judge, rendered Bolsonaro's key adversary ineligible to run against him".

Moro, who was a judge before joining Bolsonaro's cabinet, has denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign over the scandal.

Brazil's top court past year said that "the constitutional secrecy" around journalistic sources prevented the Brazilian state from using "coercive measures" against Greenwald.

"The charge stems from Greenwald's alleged role in "spreading of cellphone messages that have embarrassed prosecutors and tarnished the image of an anti-corruption task force", the Times reported, pointing to several articles published by Greenwald based on a trove of leaked messages" he received.

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"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".

"This is beyond disturbing", said Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Greenwald is known for his principled, unrelenting and sometimes caustic voice, so it was heartening to see a wide swath of U.S. commentators, including those who have had disagreements with Greenwald over the years, come to his defense on Twitter after the charges were announced. "There is no democracy without a free press, and defenders of the press everywhere should be deeply concerned about Bolsonaro's latest authoritarian move", The Intercept statement said.

Mr Snowden on Twitter called it "naked retaliation" and a threat to investigative journalism in Brazil.

"I don't think there is enough to justify opening a criminal investigation against a journalist, much less pressing charges".

Stand with Glenn. This is criminalization of journalism. He added that he would continue his reporting work regardless of the charges.

"We will not be intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence reporters".

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