Brazil: Judge rejects charges against Glenn Greenwald

[UPDATED FEBRUARY 7th] Glenn Greenwald, journalist and co-founder of the investigative media outlet "The Intercept", has been accused by Brazil's Federal Prosecutor of being part of a criminal association and illegally intercepting private conversations. The move comes following the journalist's revealed details of alleged corruption over the jailing of former president Lula Da Silva. On 7 February a Judge rejected the charges against Greenwald.

Glenn Greenwald (EVARISTO SA / AFP)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) claimed the decision was intended to "intimidate and silence investigative journalists".

On Tuesday, January 21, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), announced through a press release accusations against seven people, among them journalist Glenn Greenwald, for crimes related to the "invasion of cell phones by Brazilian authorities". According to the MPF, the evidence gathered indicates that the journalist "helped, encouraged, and guided" the group suspected of tapping the authorities' phones.

IFJ’s Brazilian affiliate, the Federação Nacional dos Jornalistas (FENAJ), points out that the MPF's accusations ignore the Federal Supreme Court's ruling in 2019 confirming that the journalist should not be investigated as part of the Federal Police's “Spoofing Operation”, a broader enquiry which investigating the hacking of authorities' cell phones.

The prosecutor’s office decided to publish accusations against Glenn Greenwald despite the fact he is not being investigated or charged with any crime.

In June 2019, a series of conversations involving the former judge Sergio Moro and the prosecutors working on the Lava Jato case were published by Glenn Greenwald in The Intercept. Since then, the journalist has been the victim of several judicial and institutional attacks and threats, including by the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who, in July 2019, publicly threatened to imprison him.

Following the complaint against him, Glenn Greenwald spoke out on his Twitter account saying he considered this complaint "an obvious attempt to attack the free press in retaliation for the revelations we have made about Minister Moro and Bolsonaro’s  government," and that he would not be "intimidated by these tyrannical attempts to silence journalists”.


Attacks and threats on journalists have become widespread since Jair Bolsonaro became president. According to the FENAJ, Bolsonaro attacks the media every three days.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “This decision of the Brazilian public prosecutor evidences the systematic attacks by the Brazilian government against media freedom and freedom of expression. We stand in solidarity with Glenn Greenwald and all the Brazilian journalists who are facing permanent attacks and threats for doing their job in an attempt to intimidate and silence invesigative journalists. They will never silence us”.

[UPDATE FEBRUARY 7th] A Brazilian judge rejected the charges made by the prosecutors against Glenn Greenwald. Six alledged hackers, who alledgedly leaked messages to the journalist, have been found guilty. 

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

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