Journalist Glenn Greenwald, best known for publishing Edward Snowden’s leaked government documents, has been charged with cyber crimes by Brazilian authorities for his “role in the spreading of cellphone messages that have embarrassed prosecutors and tarnished the image of an anti-corruption task force,” the New York Times reported.
The Brazil-based American journalist, whose reporting exposed corruption in the upper ranks of the Brazilian government, is accused of being a part of a “criminal organization” that hacked private devices belonging to the officials. The Intercept Brazil, which Greenwald co-founded, published stories based on leaks under the heading of the “Secret Brazil Archive.” Here’s how the site describes the project:
A massive trove of previously undisclosed materials provides unprecedented insight into the operations of the anti-corruption task force that transformed Brazilian politics and gained worldwide attention.
Brazilian prosecutors argue in a criminal complaint that Greenwald didn’t just publish stories based on the hacks, but that he also played a “clear role in facilitating the commission of a crime.” The Times explains:
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.
The Intercept began publishing stories based on the information last June. Greenwald, who lives in Brazil and is married to a Brazilian congressman, said at the time that the Intercept’s reporting created a “major political earthquake” thanks to “the biggest archives in the history of journalism.” By July, four people had been arrested for hacking the phone of Brazilian justice minister Sérgio Moro. At the same time, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro suggested that Greenwald could serve jail time for publishing the stories.
Upon news of the charges against Greenwald, American journalists who have often vehemently and publicly disagreed with him jumped to his defense.
In a video posted on Twitter Tuesday, Greenwald defended himself against the charges, calling them a “grave and obvious attack on a free press.”