Brazilian judge holds off on indicting American journalist Glenn Greenwald ‘for now’

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A Brazilian judge on Thursday decided to hold off on indicting American journalist Glenn Greenwald on charges that he committed cyber crimes related to his reporting on top Brazilian officials.

According to The Intercept, where Greenwald is a co-founding editor, Brazilian Judge Ricardo Augusto Soares Leite ruled that proceedings would not move forward “for now” against Greenwald due to a previous ruling by the country’s Supreme Court that anti-corruption reporting by the outlet had not violated any laws.

However, Leite noted that if the previous ruling had not occurred, the case against Greenwald would have moved forward.

Leite did rule that proceedings would go forward against six individuals accused of directly hacking the phones of Brazilian officials, according to The New York Times.

Greenwald was charged with cyber crimes by Brazilian prosecutors in January after the publication of articles based on leaked phone calls involving Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro. These articles were part of The Intercept’s series on “Operation Car Wash,” a federal police investigation that charged high-profile companies and top officials with misconduct. 

Greenwald tweeted Thursday that the decision “protects me from lawsuits” but noted that his “goal is not just to protect myself.”

“Our fight is in defense of a free press for all journalists, who are still threatened by this decision,” Greenwald wrote, vowing to bring his case to the Brazilian Supreme Court “for a more decisive guarantee of press freedom.”

The Intercept’s editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, said in a statement included in the outlet’s story that The Intercept “will continue to fight for the complete exoneration Glenn deserves, and for the rights of all journalists to exercise the freedoms they are entitled to under the Brazilian constitution.”

The charges were brought against Greenwald months after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro warned that Greenwald would “do jail time” due to his involvement in the publication of the leaked phone messages. 

The charges against Greenwald were decried by many, with officials from the United Nations and the independent Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) putting out statements on Thursday strongly condemning the charges.

“Legal threats like these put all reporting in Brazil at risk,” David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said in a statement. “Journalists who investigate cases of corruption or improper actions by public authorities should not be subjected to judicial or any other types of harassment in retaliation for their work.”

Edison Lanza, the IACHR’s special rapporteur for freedom of expression, said in a separate statement that “criminal charges of this nature can also have a general chilling effect on press investigations.”

Other officials, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have also defended Greenwald.

Warren, who is running for president, tweeted in January that “the Bolsonaro government is pursuing state retaliation against Glenn Greenwald because of his work as a journalist to expose public abuse and corruption. Brazil should drop the charges immediately and stop its attacks on a free and open press.”

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also condemned the charges against Greenwald, writing in an op-ed in The Washington Post that the charges highlighted “a process that is weakening Brazilian democracy.”

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