For the past month, The Intercept Brazil and its founding editor Glenn Greenwald have been publishing a series of investigative articles laying out serious evidence of corruption involving Sergio Moro, the country’s Minister of Justice. Moro is also a former judge who imprisoned ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, rendering him ineligible to run in the 2018 presidential election that current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro won.
The reporting has sent shock waves throughout Brazil’s political establishment, and has been the biggest story in the country for weeks. It has also led to many specific death threats against members of The Intercept Brazil, Greenwald, and his family. The threats have been denounced by several international press freedom organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders. (Greenwald is also a founding board member of Freedom of the Press Foundation.)
Now, the attacks from Bolsonaro and Moro have severely escalated. The Brazilian federal police have formally requested an investigation into Greenwald’s finances, according to a right-wing magazine in Brazil that is reportedly often cited and used as a mouthpiece by Moro and the same prosecutors being investigated by The Intercept Brazil.
Most disturbingly, the Federal Police—the Brazilian equivalent of the FBI—is under the command of Moro, the very person Greenwald and The Intercept Brazil are reporting on. It is believed that the investigation is a pretext that could lead to the Brazilian government to attempt to prosecute Greenwald and his journalistic colleagues for their publications.
Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm issued the following statement:
Criminally investigating journalist Glenn Greenwald for reporting on corruption within the Bolsonaro government is a shocking violation of his rights as a reporter. Worse, the same person who is the primary subject of The Intercept’s reporting—Minister of Justice Sergio Moro—would also have ultimate authority over any Federal Police investigation. It’s not only an outrageous attack on press freedom, but a gross abuse of power. Journalists should not have to worry about harassment, death threats, or facing government investigations for reporting the truth about powerful individuals. Freedom of the Press Foundation calls on the Brazilian government to immediately halt its intimidation tactics and concentrate on investigating those who deserve it: the subjects of The Intercept Brazil’s reporting.
Freedom of the Press Foundation will have more on this story as it develops.