Brazil: Government threatens and harasses journalist Glenn Greenwald

[Updated on 9th August] Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, has publicly threatened to imprison American journalist Glenn Greenwald following the publication of reports which he alleges undermined the government. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Brazilian affiliate FENAJ in condemning the persecution of Greenwald and calls on the international community to denounce Bolsonaro’s autocratic decisions against media freedom.

Glenn Greenwald (Tobias Hase - DPA/AFP)

The case stems from the publication by The Intercept on 9th June of leaked chats compromising Sergio Moro, a former prominent judge who is now Justice Minister. According to these reports, Sergio Moro gave prosecutors strategic advice and tips when he was in charge of the sprawling corruption investigation known as Operation Lava Jato to send to jail former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, better known as Lula.

These revelations allegedly exposed illegal coordination between the judge and prosecutors to shape and direct evidence during the trial against Lula.

During a military ceremony on 27th July, far-right President Jair Bolsonaro indicated Glenn Greenwald “might be imprisoned” over these revelations. A few days before, members of his party had said the journalist was “aligned with criminal hackers”.

These are just the latest attempts to muzzle Glenn Greenwald’s investigative work. The American journalist denounced in an interview that he and his team received death threats, including references to his private security guards, his house, his kid’s activities and private life.

The Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist is also a victim of a violent online harassment campaign called #DeportGlennGreenwald orchestrated by Bolsonaro’s supporters and which has been trending in Brazil.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We strongly condemn any attempt to intimidate Glenn Greenwald and salute his courage in reporting in an increasingly hostile political environment. Brazilian authorities must immediately stop harassing him and other media workers and guarantee journalists’ safety and fundamental rights”.

FENAJ said in a statement: “We warn of the danger of restrictions on press freedom, which are always used by autocratic governments. FENAJ reaffirms its commitment to the defence of journalists’ freedom and their right to keep their sources secret”.

[UPDATE, 9TH AUGUST] On 8th August, Brazil's Federal Supreme Court Judge Gimar Mendes issued a ruling preventing the authorities from investigating journalist Glenn Greenwald for its reporting about Justice Minister Sergio Moro. He stated that any prosecution would "constitute an unequivocal act of censorship".

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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