Award-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald has been accused of hacking the cellphones of Brazilian prosecutors and public officials in a criminal case launched on Tuesday.
Federal prosecutors charged Greenwald with cybercrimes for his role in publishing leaked cellphone messages that have embarrassed the Bolsonaro administration and its anti-corruption task force, as well as charging him with membership of a “criminal organization.”
Greenwald had already butted heads with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, with the journalist referring to him as a “wannabe dictator,” and the president vowing not to expel the journalist from the country but instead to imprison him.
Greenwald’s news organization The Intercept Brasil, which he co-founded in 2016, has published numerous bombshell reports featuring a multitude of leaked messages, incriminating sitting Minister for Justice Sergio Moro for undermining Brazil’s leftist Workers’ Party and preventing former president Lula da Silva from returning to power, thus paving the way for Bolsonaro to take power in 2018.
The messages also appeared to show that Moro, then a federal judge, coached and strategized with prosecutors handling the corruption case against da Silva in 2017. Moro later went on to become Bolsonaro’s minister for justice.
Prosecutors maintain that Greenwald played a “clear role in facilitating the commission of a crime,” by telling hackers to delete their own archives to help cover their tracks from Brazilian prosecutors.
Greenwald’s long-time friend and ally, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. tweeted that the charges were “naked retaliation for revealing extreme corruption at the highest levels of Bolsonaro’s administration.”
In a statement, Greenwald described the charges as “an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation” for the damaging reports about Moro and the Bolsonaro government in general.