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.
According to the Times, the complaint said Greenwald, a former contributor to The Guardian who then co-founded the online news publication The Intercept, “did more than merely receive the hacked messages and oversee the publication” of newsworthy elements. Greenwald was accused by prosecutors of being part of a “criminal organization” that has hacked into the cellphones of prosecutors and other Brazilian officials, according to the report.
Shortly after the Times published its report, Greenwald – who lives in Brazil – issued a lengthy comment to The Daily Beast, bashing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
“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,” Greenwald told the Beast.
“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,” Greenwald added, calling the charge “an obvious attempt to attack a free press in retaliation for the revelations we reported about Minister Moro and the Bolsonaro government.”
Greenwald told the liberal website that he “will not be intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence journalists” and is working on new reporting.
“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,” he told the Beast.
While Greenwald is politically liberal, he has criticized the mainstream media on a regular basis. Last month he bashed the press for elevating former FBI and CIA figures such as CNN’s Josh Campbell and MSNBC’s John Brennan to “noble truth-tellers” of U.S. democracy to spread “false propaganda,” as he put it.
Many media industry professionals took to Twitter to defend Greenwald: