On Tuesday, Brazilian prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald in connection with his reporting on an investigative project that exposed widespread misconduct among Brazilian prosecutors and a former judge. The accusation relates to a series of articles published by The Intercept and The Intercept Brasil on a sprawling anti-corruption investigation that led to the imprisonment of a popular former Brazilian president and cleared the way for far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro to take power. The filing directly contradicts a finding by Brazil’s Federal Police, who reviewed Greenwald’s involvement with the alleged hacking and found no wrongdoing on the part of the journalist.
The Intercept and Greenwald denounced the complaint today — as did a number of members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, citing concerns over press freedom.
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said in a tweet that “prosecuting reporters for doing their work will have chilling effect on journalism across the world,” adding that he’s crafting legislation to protect journalists from being prosecuted under the Espionage Act, a 1917 anti-spying law that has been used recently against alleged journalistic sources and to indict Julian Assange.
“Our team’s goal is to amend the Espionage Act so that it cannot be used to prosecute journalists that simply publish information that’s provided to them,” his office added in an emailed statement. “The strength of our country and democracy is its free and open press that we must protect. We hope to introduce the bill in the next three months, and make it bipartisan, but we’re taking our time and working with experts at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Columbia’s Knight First Amendment Institute, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.”
“No journalist should face prosecution for reporting critical facts about the government or politicians,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in an emailed statement.
“It’s troubling that McConnell wants to keep you guys out of the hallways, too,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, referring to the crackdown on the Capitol Hill press corps for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, which continued today. “It’s all the same kind of view of the world.”
When asked if it was concerning, Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma replied: “Always. I’ve not been able to follow up with the final details on that, but yes, we’re always trying to pay attention to that.”
When asked about the criminal complaint, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii., said he hadn’t seen the news and didn’t know enough to comment on the issue.
“Any charges relating to reporting and free press have to be very critically and skeptically scrutinized,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “I’m unfamiliar with the charges there but the First Amendment values and rules deserve absolute respect.”
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said he didn’t know enough about the complaint, but said “that sounds concerning.”